The new I-85 North bridge over the Yadkin River near Salisbury, N.C., will open to traffic for the first time early Saturday morning.
This aerial photo shows the newly constructed I-85 North bridge over the Yadkin River in North Carolina's Davidson and Rowan counties. The new bridge, located on the right, will open to traffic this weekend. (Photo courtesy of NCDOT)
The new bridge features four lanes - twice as many as the old I-85 North bridge. The new bridge also has a 12-foot-wide shoulder on each side to improve safety. The old bridge, built in 1955, had virtually no shoulders. Previously, when an accident occurred, traffic backed up for miles on I-85, says the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
"This new bridge is part of a more than $200 million investment we've made to widen I-85 and replace the aging bridges over the Yadkin River," says Gov. Bev Perdue. "By upgrading this heavily traveled part of our state's transportation system, we'll make it easier for people to access jobs and education, help businesses get their goods to market sooner and attract new companies to North Carolina."
Construction started on the new I-85 North bridge in February 2011. At its peak, more than 200 people worked 24 hours a day, six to seven days a week to complete the new bridge on time. Crews finished building the 0.5-mile bridge in roughly 14 months.
The new I-85 North bridge is part of the I-85 Corridor Improvement Project, North Carolina's number-one mobility project. The first phase of the project includes widening 3.3 miles of I-85 to eight lanes from north of Long Ferry Road (Exit 81) in Rowan County to just north of the N.C. 150 interchange in Davidson County, reconstructing the N.C. 150 interchange and replacing eight bridges, including the Yadkin River bridges.
The second phase of the project extends the widening work 3.8 miles to just north of I-85 Business in Davidson County and reconstructs the I-85 interchange at Belmont Road. The project is scheduled to be complete in May 2013.
The funding for project came, in part, from Gov. Perdue's Mobility Fund. She proposed its creation as a way to generate the money needed to pay for critical transportation projects of regional or statewide significance. The I-85 Corridor Improvement Project is the first project to receive money from the Mobility Fund.