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The I-485 Blame Game

Yes, it's again time for the Interstate 485 blame game. And a recent article in the Charlotte Observer brings a whole litany of complaints, finger pointing, and disappointed drivers. So lets just list all of the complaints.

First, the section of I-485 from NC 16 to I-77 and NC 115 could end up opening two years behind its Spring 2007 original planned opening date.

So what went wrong? We've covered a few of them here at the blog.

The contractor Virginia Beach based Skanska lists their beefs:

First, when they were to begin surveying in December 2003. Not all of the land for the project had been owned by the State. The state counters with it is sometime common to have a few parcels of land not owned by the State at the start of construction. However, NCDOT does concede that the 14 parcels of land that in December 2003 were not purchased were a bit excessive.

Skanska claims that the lack of a completed right-of-way process forced them to access construction sites with more difficulty.

Other complaints from Skanska include the 62 extra days it took to move a major gas line along with five other utility relocation delays.

And finally the contractor contends that they did not receive plans to provide access to a Target and car dealership until the last minute and that the plans they received were hand drawn.

Skanska claims that the state has caused the project to be 311 days behind schedule, and has requested slightly over $8.5 million in additional compensation. The state, however, view the causes for the delays otherwise.

NCDOT feels that the contractor could have easily worked on other sections of the nearly six mile project while waiting for the utilities to be moved. They also do not believe that the company has not accurately computed their losses.

In addition, NCDOT points to a January 22nd letter that required Skanska to rebuild the asphalt base on the I-485/I-77 interchange ramps because it was too thin.

But the state does admit causing 138 days in delays.

Now onto the final segment of the loop. (I-77 to I-85 near Concord/University)

It still appears that the highway will not see any construction until 2015. It appears that a preliminary opening date is 2018. (Ten years from now). Considering the various funding, procedural, and construction delays, I'm willing to go out on a limb and say that it'll be 2021 before I-485 is officially done.

Now there is one ray of hope for completing I-485. Barry moose, who is the NCDOT engineer that oversees the Charlotte area, says that if the state can find the extra money to build the highway, construction could begin in 2011.

However, he didn't guarantee that if that would happen there would be no procedural or construction delays with it either.

Story: Charlotte Observer


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