Yadkin bridge project one year old
N.C. Department of Transportation
RALEIGH — One year after breaking ground on a project to widen Interstate 85 in Rowan and Davidson counties and replace the aging bridges over the Yadkin River, the N.C. Department of Transportation says it has made “significant progress.”
“We’re pleased with the strides we’ve made so far on phase one, and we look forward to accomplishing even more critical milestones in the year ahead,” Pat Ivey, Division 9 engineer for the Transportation Department, said in a press release. “When the $136 million project is complete in 2013, it will help traffic move more safely and efficiently through this important economic corridor.”
Ivey was among those who joined Gov. Beverly Perdue and braved a rainy, chilly Sept. 29, 2010, to turn dirt in a Davidson County field near the Yadkin. It marked the official start of the 3.3 mile undertaking that state officials call the North Carolina’s No. 1 mobility project.
The project’s centerpiece is replacing the 56-year-old twin spans that now carry interstate traffic over the Yadkin River. For years, they have been ranked among the worst bridges in the state by AAA Carolinas.
The work is being done in two phases. Flatiron-Lane, a joint venture of Flatiron Constructors Inc. and the Lane Construction Corp., has completed nearly 50 percent of the first phase, which includes replacing eight bridges and widening I-85 to eight lanes from north of Long Ferry Road in Rowan to north of the N.C. 150 interchange in Davidson.
To date, crews have moved more than 890,000 cubic yards of dirt on the project site. That is enough to fill 35,600 dump trucks. They have also installed 1.5 million pounds of reinforcing steel — the equivalent of 938 Smart Cars — and poured 3,300 cubic yards of structural concrete, which would fill 64 backyard swimming pools.
They are using much of that material to replace the aging I-85 bridge over the Yadkin River with two new bridges, one for I-85 North traffic and one for I-85 South traffic. That work is currently on schedule.
“The foundation work is now 75 percent complete,” said Chris Lamm, project engineer for Flatiron-Lane. “On the northbound bridge, we’ve set seven of 21 spans of girders, which are the beams that form the base for the part of the bridge where vehicles will drive.”
Crews have already begun pouring concrete to form the bridge’s surface. The Transportation Department plans to move I-85 North traffic onto the new I-85 North bridge in the spring of 2012. Traffic on I-85 South is scheduled to temporarily transition to the new I-85 North bridge in early summer 2012. The new I-85 North bridge will carry two lanes of traffic in each direction until crews complete construction on the new I-85 South bridge.
And starting this week crews will start paving new lanes on I-85. They will begin on the Long Ferry Road end of the project and move north to the Duke Industrial Rail Spur. While that work is under way, workers will continue building the new road bed further north on both sides of the river.
Perdue said when she turned the first shovel of dirt last year that the project will benefit the state in many ways.
Phase one is expected to create or sustain about 200 jobs, and about 90 percent of those employees are being hired locally. Flatiron-Lane is also bolstering the economy by renting about $3 million worth of equipment and buying more than $12 million in supplies for construction, such as concrete, aggregate and lumber, from companies in North Carolina.
Once phase one is complete, it will provide motorists with a safer, more efficient way to move goods, get to jobs and access education, the Department of Transportation said.
Crews officially completed rehabilitation work on the historic Wil-Cox Bridge north of Spencer on Sept. 1. The updated bridge is now ready — if needed during an emergency on I-85 — to serve as a detour route for U.S. 29/70 traffic while crews replace the existing U.S. 29/70 North bridge. Flatiron-Lane worked to preserve the historical integrity of the 89-year-old Wil-Cox Bridge while making numerous safety improvements, the Transportation Department said in its press release.
The state will turn ownership of the bridge over to Davidson County for use as a pedestrian bridge once the overall project is complete.
Phase two of the I-85 project is also under way. The $65.5 million phase two includes widening 3.8 miles of I-85 to eight lanes from north of the N.C. 150 interchange to just north of I-85 Business in Davidson County, as well as reconstructing the Belmont Road interchange. Construction started in May and is expected to be complete by May 2013.
For more information on both phases of the project, visit www.i-85yadkinriver.com. To receive instant updates on traffic pattern changes, construction-related congestion and project milestones, follow NCDOT’s I-85 Twitter feed.