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New section of Interstate 485 MAY open this week

The northwest quadrant of Interstate 485 has had a laundry list of issues. Concrete and asphalt problems, sign problems, and other delays has caused portions of the highways to fall 18 months behind schedule. Well, if all goes well this week (And with I-485's history, it won't.), an additional 2.3 miles of Interstate 485 will open to traffic. See today's Charlotte Observer for more.

The new opening will be from Interstate 85 in western Mecklenburg County northwards to NC 27 (Mount Holly Road). There is also an exit with Moores Chapel Road in between. This is the first of three segments of Interstate 485 to open between now and the first half of 2007. Early in 2007, the highway is to open a few miles further north from NC 27 to Brookshire Blvd. (NC 16). Then later in 2007, the Northwest corner will be complete as I-485 will be extended further to Interstate 77 and NC 115 near Huntersville.

It is believed that this part of I-485 will ease traffic on NC 16 and NC 27 from points in Gaston and Lincoln Counties. Also, leaders expect this to open Northwest Mecklenburg County to development. But quite possibly the greatest benefit of the Northwest corner of I-485 is how the road will cut the corner for traffic heading from I-77 South to I-85 South to Gastonia, South Carolina, or Atlanta. And from I-85 North to I-77 North to Statesville, Virginia and further north.

See:
2.3 miles of I-485 to open in November
Sign error may delay I-485's opening in Charlotte

Commentary:

The next three pieces of I-485 to open will be a great help to local and interstate traffic around Charlotte. Cutting the corner on the I-77S/I-85S and I-85N/I-77N connection will be a huge time and mileage save, and will cut a decent amount of traffic on 77 and 85 as a result. I wouldn't be surprised if 485 will cut 10-15 minutes from the curren I-77 to I-85 connection.

As for the opening, I wouldn't be surprised if the road doesn't open this week. Already 18 months behind, something else probably will go wrong. In 2004, the southwest corner of I-485 opening was delayed numerous times.

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