Raleigh - Travelers who are along Interstate 85 between Vance County and the Virginia state line need to be ready for a major change that has taken place in the traffic pattern. In early June, I-85 southbound traffic was shifted to the northbound side of the interstate between the Virginia state line and Oine Road. This is the last section of southbound traffic that was moved into the single-lane each-way pattern on the northbound lanes.
The shifts are part of a five-year project to repair the deteriorating interstate, replace bridges on I-85 and improve bridges over the interstate to create safer conditions for tractor trailers traveling underneath them.
By closing the southbound lanes and moving all traffic to the northbound side, it allows the contractor to safely work on the southbound lanes, and should speed up the completion of the project by as much as a year. This traffic pattern is expected to remain in place until later this year.
Travelers can avoid potential major backups on I-85 by using alternate routes. To remain on interstate roads, southbound drivers coming through Richmond can stay on I-95 at the I-85/95 split in Petersburg, and take it to Rocky Mount in North Carolina. They would then go west on U.S. 64/Future I-495 to I-540 West around north Raleigh to I-40 West, then proceed to I-85 South near Hillsborough. A second option to get to I-85 South from I-40 West is to use N.C. 147 North (Durham Freeway). Drivers heading north from the Triad, Charlotte and points south could follow that route in reverse.
Motorists already south of Petersburg on southbound I-85 can skip potential backups by getting on U.S. 58 East in South Hill, Virginia, at exit 12, and cutting across to I-95. From there, drivers can follow the previous alternate route.
The DOT is using a traffic monitoring system that determines when traffic speeds have been reduced significantly, indicating congestion from traffic volume or a crash. In such situations, message boards located along I-85 South in South Hill at U.S. 58, at the I-85/I-40 split near Hillsborough, and at the Durham Freeway will direct drivers to those alternate routes.
Drivers can lower the chance of being caught in a major congestion backup by traveling at non-peak travel times. They can help avoid being in a crash and causing a major backup by using extra caution through the work zone, obeying the speed limit and avoiding distractions.
For real-time travel information for I-85 and other roadways across the state, visit DriveNC.gov or follow NCDOT on Twitter.