The N.C. Department of Transportation will evaluate "best-fit" alignment for the I-85 widening – such as widening the road on the outside or inside – to determine which widening option would minimize environmental impacts within the project corridor.
In addition, because there is not enough clearance to widen I-85 at all of the interchanges and bridges (roadway and railroad), NCDOT will evaluate various options for upgrading interchanges and relocating bridges.
The NCDOT project team will evaluate the following interchanges and bridges as part of the project development process:
- U.S. 321 interchange (Exit 17)
- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Marietta Street bridge
- Modena Street bridge
- Four railroad bridges that cross over I-85
- N.C. 7 (East Ozark Avenue) interchange (Exit 19)
- N.C. 279 (North New Hope Road) interchange (Exit 20)
- Aberdeen Road bridge
- Cox Road interchange (Exit 21)
- South Church Street bridge
- South Main Street interchange (Exit 22)
- Groves Street bridge
- N.C. 7 (McAdenville Road) interchange (Exit 23)
- South Fork Catawba River bridge
- Hickory Grove Road bridge
- Belmont-Mount Holly Road interchange (Exit 26)
- N.C. 273 (Beatty Drive) interchange (Exit 27)
Options will be screened and analyzed based on impacts to property owners, community resources, streams, wetlands and historic resources. Other factors such as cost, schedule, design complexity and traffic flow will also be considered.
As part of the project development process, NCDOT will prepare an Environmental Assessment that outlines the impacts and benefits associated with the proposed work. For the project to move forward, the Federal Highway Administration must approve the environmental document and agree with an anticipated Finding of No Significant Impact, which determines the project will not have a significant effect on the environment.
Community input is a key component of the environmental review and project development process. NCDOT will consider and incorporate comments and feedback as much as possible and will hold a public meeting to present potential design options for review.