Work to begin on outdated I-77/I-40 interchange

The interchange at Interstates 77 and 40 is about to undergo an $89 million overhaul, its first major repair since it was built in the late 1960s.

The massive project will take five years and will include building a multi-level interchange, widening I-40 from four to six lanes from N.C. 115 to Old Mocksville Road, reconstructing U.S. 21, building several bridges and closing a nearby interchange at Old U.S. 64.

The N.C. Department of Transportation on Thursday will lay out its plans at a public meeting at the Statesville Civic Center.

About 70,000 vehicles a day travel the interstates at the interchange, state transportation officials said. When the interchange was built, about 5,000 were projected to travel through the area. Volume is expected to rise to about 110,000 vehicles a day in 2035, officials said.

The present cloverleaf configuration is harrowing for drivers. Motorists traveling west on I-40 and trying to head onto I-77 southbound, for instance, must contend with southbound I-77 motorists heading off the interchange onto I-40 West.

“The current configuration does not meet today’s design guidelines, and the interchange has outlived its service life,” said Jerry Higgins of the N.C. Department of Transportation in Raleigh.

The state awarded a contract for the project to Zachry Construction Corp. of San Antonio, Texas. Work is expected to begin this month and finish by March 2017.

Expect lane closures during the project but not over holidays or during major regional events such as the May and October races at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Higgins said. The state will provide regular project updates at www.ncdot.gov/travel and on Twitter.

“This is a major project with many elements, so we ask that motorists have patience to maintain maximum safety for motorists as well as the workers,” Statesville-based DOT engineer John Cook said.

Work will involve several phases on and off the interstates and interchange area, Higgins said. Work also will include:

• Building parallel lanes on I-40 to allow vehicles to access U.S. 21 and I-40 from U.S. 21 without disrupting traffic flow.

• Reconstructing U.S. 21 from just north of Glenway Drive to BB&T on Sullivan Road south of I-40, with a diverging diamond interchange at I-40.

That’s the same type of interchange planned for I-77 Exit 28 in Cornelius, at I-485 and Mallard Creek Road and on Interstate 85 at Poplar Tent Road and N.C. 73.

The design improves safety, officials say, because drivers make free-flowing turns entering and exiting the interstate, eliminating left turns against oncoming traffic.

• Reconstructing the bridge on Radio Road.

• Building a new bridge over U.S. 21 and Fourth Creek and a new bridge from Sunset Hill Road to Gaither Road.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2012/08/06/3433955/work-to-begin-on-outdated-i-77i.html#storylink=cpy
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