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Work to complete the I-485 Outer Loop in Charlotte and to widen I-85 near Concord and northeast Charlotte involved four separate projects:
- Building the final 5.7 miles of I-485, which runs from west of N.C. 115 to west of I-85 and links I-77 to I-85 (TIP No. R-2248E)
- Converting the existing I-85/I-485 interchange to a turbine interchange, the first of its kind in the state (TIP No. R-2123CE)
- Widening approximately 7 miles of I-85 from four to eight lanes from south of Bruton Smith Boulevard/Concord Mills Boulevard, at Exit 49, to north of N.C. 73, at Exit 55, in Cabarrus County. The project also included converting Popular Tent Road and N.C. 73 to a Synchronized Street (superstreet) design (TIP No. I-3803B).
- Widening the southern section of I-485 from four to six lanes between I-77 and Rea Road (TIP No. R-4902).
Three projects in the northeast Charlotte area feature interchange designs – the first used in North Carolina – to improve safety, move traffic more quickly and significantly reduce project costs.
I-485 from West of N.C. 115 to West of I-85 (R-2248E)
A new 5.7-mile, eight-lane section of I-485 from west of N.C. 115 (Old Statesville Road) to east of I-85. This section links I-77 to I-85 to help relieve congestion on neighboring surface streets. This project completes the entire 67-mile I-485 Loop, an important corridor for local and regional travel.
- Completes the final section of I-485 from west of N.C. 115 to east of I-85
- Completes the I-485/N.C. 115 interchange
- Extends Alexanderana Road from N.C. 115 to connect with Eastfield Road
- Construction of a bridge to carry Browne Road over I-485
- Construction of a split-diamond interchange at Prosperity Church Road to allow traffic to exit I-485 onto a one-way service road connected to three separate streets through a series of roundabouts
Split Diamond Interchange
- Realigns Johnston-Oehler road to connect with the Prosperity Church Road/DeArmon Road intersection
- Realigns Ridge Road and Odell School Road near the I-485 Mallard Creek Road interchange
- Construction of a diverging diamond interchange at Mallard Creek Road.
Diverging Diamond Interchange
I-85/I-485 Interchange (R-2123CE)
The project converts the existing I-85/I-485 interchange in northeast Charlotte to a “turbine interchange,” a new concept and design-first for North Carolina. NCDOT originally planned to build a traditional four-level “stack interchange” at this location, consisting of several levels of bridges that would be more expensive to construct and complicated to maintain.
The turbine design features smaller, single-span bridges with smaller columns and flatter roadway profiles. This innovative design circles all left-turning traffic around a central bridge in a counterclockwise direction, improving sight distances for motorists and allowing a safer transition between the two interstates at highway speeds.
- The turbine interchange design saved an estimated $50 million on the total cost of the project and did not require any additional right of way.
- Roads and Bridges magazine named the turbine interchange the No. 1 project on its 2012 Top 10 Roads list.
- The project also replaced the existing bridge carrying Mallard Creek Road over I-85 to accommodate the new on- and exit ramps connecting I-85 to the new interchange.
I-85 Widening Project (I-3803B)
This approximately 7-mile project widened I-85 from four to eight lanes in Cabarrus County from south of Bruton Smith Boulevard/Concord Mills Boulevard at Exit 49 to north of N.C. 73 at Exit 55. This helps the already heavily traveled I-85 accommodate additional traffic upon the completion of the Charlotte Outer Loop. The project also included improvements to roads around the interchanges.
This portion of the Charlotte Outer Loop project was completed in September 2014.
I-485 Improvements from I-77 to Rea Road (R-4902)
Project Overview and Purpose
Completed in 1994, this approximately 9.2-mile segment of I-485 ranks among the most congested roadways in North Carolina, averaging over 115,000 vehicles per day. These volumes exceed the capacity of the existing facility. Without additional improvements, this section of I-485 would have become even more congested with increased traffic and decreased travel reliability.
By widening this section of I-485 from four to six lanes, the improvement project increased system capacity and improve travel efficiency on I-485 for both local and regional motorists.
- Added one new general purpose lane in each direction between I-77 and Rea Road
- Construction of a flyover bridge at the interchange with U.S. 521 (Johnston Road), taking traffic from U.S. 521 North to the I-485 Inner Loop. This eliminated the left turn movement from U.S. 521 North to the I-485 Inner Loop. The flyover bridge opened in July 2014
- Rehabilitated the existing pavement on I-485 within the project limits
- Widened existing structures on I-485 within the project limits, except the bridges over I-77
- Constructed an auxiliary lane on the I-485 Inner Loop between U.S. 521 (Johnston Road) and N.C. 51 (Pineville-Matthews Road)
- Constructed four sound barrier walls within the project limits: one approximately 2,400-foot wall along the I-485 Inner Loop from the bridge over Little Sugar Creek to the entrance ramp from N.C. 51; one approximately 2,350-foot wall along the I-485 Inner Loop west of the entrance ramp from South Boulevard; one approximately 3,000-foot long wall along the I-485 Outer Loop between U.S. 521 (Johnston Road) and Elm Lane; and one approximately 930-foot long wall in the northwest corner of the I-485/Rea Road interchange
Engineers developed an innovative interchange design to help complete the heavily traveled Outer Loop in Charlotte.
This visualization is a rendering of the new section of I-485 (Charlotte Outer Loop) constructed under R-2248E. The project included building an eight-lane freeway from west of N.C. 115 to west of I-85 in northeast Charlotte.
This visualization is a rendering of how to drive a diverging diamond interchange.
Louis Mitchell, PE
716 West Main Street
Albemarle, NC 28001
Resources for Local Property Owners
In many cases, it is inevitable that a certain amount of private property must be acquired. The displacement of homes and businesses is minimized to the extent practicable. The following brochures will answer questions about this process.