I-85 bridge project: Changing lanes

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 31, 2011

In 2012, local drivers will keep their eyes on the road — one that will soon carry them over the Yadkin River.
Interstate 85 currently crosses the river on a split, four-lane bridge that was built in 1955. It has earned multiple honors from AAA Carolinas as one of the worst bridges in the state.
But by the end of this year, interstate traffic will begin to traverse a new and improved version of the Yadkin River Bridge. Transportation officials say the two-part bridge will have a total of eight travel lanes and will be safer for drivers.
In the I-85 Corridor Improvement Project, the N.C. Department of Transportation also is working to realign and widen 3.3 miles of the interstate on either side of the bridge, which connects Rowan and Davidson counties.
Contractor Flatiron-Lane has said northbound traffic will be moved onto the new Yadkin River bridge by the end of March. By late summer, no traffic will remain on the old bridge.
The first phase of the I-85 Corridor Improvement Project began in September 2010 and is set to be finished by January 2013. A second phase will widen 3.8 miles of the interstate in Davidson County.
State and local elected officials had worked for several years to replace the bridge. N.C. Gov. Bev Perdue and U.S. Rep. Mel Watt both called it “dangerous” and pledged to find funding to tear it down and build a new one.
A path forward appeared to emerge with passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009. The state applied for $300 million in stimulus grant money, but it was only awarded $10 million in February 2010. The rest of the project’s $136 million first phase is financed with GARVEE bonds, which will allow the state to borrow money against its future federal allocations.
— By Karissa Minn

Yadkin River
Veterans Memorial Bridge
Age: 56 going on 0
Occupation: Vehicular support
Favorite book: “The Confidence Plan: How to Build a Stronger You” by Tim Ursiny
Most surprising song or artist in your music collection: “At Last” by Etta James
Who will you watch in 2012?: The Wil-Cox bridge on U.S. 29/70
Why this person is one to watch in 2012: Construction is moving fast on the long-awaited new bridge, which will start carrying traffic this year.
Reaction to making the list: Stunned silence.