Charlotte - The N.C. Department of Transportation made significant progress in 2016 throughout Division 12, which includes Alexander, Catawba, Cleveland, Gaston, Iredell and Lincoln counties. Several projects reached important milestones toward meeting the goals outlined in Governor Pat McCrory's 25-Year Vision for transportation, such as reducing congestion, enhancing mobility and improving safety.
"The division continues to benefit from the department's robust resurfacing, construction and bridge programs," Division Engineer Mark Stafford said. "In addition, the list of projects for the division that received high scores under Governor McCrory's new funding formula include key infrastructure improvements that will allow us to continue to provide a safe and efficient transportation system for our growing region."
Motorists are now able to drive on a two-mile section of the Shelby Bypass that opened in September, beginning west of Peachtree Road to east of Kimbrell Road near Mooresboro.
The complete bypass will feature an 18.5-mile, four-lane divided highway from east of Mooresboro to west of Stony Point at U.S. 74 Business in Kings Mountain. The bypass will improve traffic flow through and around Shelby by providing a limited-access route without traffic signals.
The department opened a new weigh station in Bessemer City on Dec. 14 that aims to capture the majority of truck traffic on I-85 North. The $19.7 million facility has a longer deceleration lane for trucks, weigh-in-motion technology and inspection building that allows vehicles to be inspected in all types of weather conditions. Modifications to the acceleration lane will make it easier for truckers to merge back on I-85, improving safety for all motorists.
Also this month, the department opened a diverging diamond interchange at the intersection of U.S. 21 and Interstate 40 in Statesville, as part of the I-40/I-77 interchange project. This innovative design is becoming more prevalent in North Carolina because it moves large volumes of traffic safely and efficiently.
In Iredell County, construction crews made significant progress on a new rest area facility just south of the Tomlin Mill Road interchange. This 5,000 square foot facility is being built in the median of the interstate, which will allow motorists to enter the rest area by exiting left from either direction of I-77. Once the facility opens in the fall of 2018, four rest areas along I-77 will close -two at the Iredell/Yadkin county line, and two north of Mooresville.
Crews in Cleveland County won first place during the department's Wildflower and Daylily Awards for the wildflower bed located at the I-85 Welcome Center, about two miles north of the state line. The red corn poppies and purple larkspur wildflowers will again greet visitors this spring, and mixed zinnias will bloom in the fall.
In 2017, one of the major projects to be awarded in the region is a contract to widen N.C. 16 in Catawba County from north of Caldwell Road to Tower Road. This is the last section of N.C. 16 to be widened between I-40 and Charlotte.