Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Contact: Doug Hecox
Federal Highway Administrator Mendez Reviews Progress of Charlotte-Area's I-85 Interchange
State's First 'Turbine' Interchange on Track to Ease Congestion in Key Economic Corridor
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez today joined North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) officials for a briefing on the progress of the new interchange on I-85/I-485, which will reduce traffic congestion on I-77 and local streets.
"President Obama said in his State of the Union address last month that we should 'Fix it First' and make sure our country's infrastructure is up to the job of helping communities attract and support business," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "This project will do just that by reducing congestion and making it easier for people and goods to get where they need to go throughout Charlotte and Mecklenburg County."
The new $92 million interchange, which relies on $50.6 million in federal funds, will connect to Charlotte's 67-mile-long "Outer Loop" on I-485 and install additional highway lighting. The project is expected to be completed and open to traffic next year. The turbine design features lanes that sweep left-turning traffic around a central bridge in a clockwise direction. For animation of the turbine interchange, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8czDkgzpSco
"Improving this critical transportation corridor will attract businesses and jobs, and improve quality of life for area residents," Administrator Mendez said. "This is a good example of what President Obama meant when he called on us to improve infrastructure to stimulate business development."
The turbine interchange, the first in the state and one of only a handful in the United States, is one of several high-priority improvement projects, known as the "Big Three," currently underway on North Carolina highways to improve safety and reduce traffic congestion along the Charlotte area's major east-west commercial route.
The project features 18 bridges, three times more than a previously considered design, but their smaller sizes will make the turbine interchange easier to build and maintain, saving taxpayers an estimated $30 million, according to the NCDOT.
The turbine interchange relies on "design-build finance," a financial innovation that allowed construction to start four years earlier than originally estimated.
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