Our two big interstate road projects are finally coming to completion! State engineers say they will finish widening I-85 through Cabarrus County in April. The last leg of I-485 and the I-85/I-485 interchange should open in December.
Road planners and taxpayers should ooh and ah over the state’s first “turbine” interchange at I-485 and I-85 – built at a $50 million savings vs. traditional designs. The design’s so special, it even has its own movie on YouTube!
See the future via YouTube
The computer-generated simulation lets viewers “fly” over the spiraling 19-bridge interchange or ride with traffic down one of its through lanes. Not only is this new design a third cheaper than in the past, it also will cost less to maintain yet take up no additional space, its designers say.
The 5.7-mile-long stretch of I-485 through University City has already transformed our surface road network. The most dramatic changes focus on the Prosperity Church Road interchanges and realigned Johnston-Oehler Road, which parallels I-485 between Prosperity Church Road and Mallard Creek Road.
Overhauling farm-to-market roads
One of the last expanses of old rural Mallard Creek vanished two years ago as earth-movers started clearing the path for I-485. Johnston-Oehler Road is being realigned to take out some curves, add two new roads over the outer-belt road (with roundabouts, no less!) and add shade trees, sidewalks and bike lanes to the old farm-to-market roadway.
Some of the changes are linked to the radical interchange design taking shape around Prosperity Church Road. Back in the 1990s, Charlotte-Mecklenburg planners convinced the state to accept a novel land-use plan built around turning one exit – at Prosperity Church Road – into a cluster of exits onto three parallel streets. The idea was to diffuse traffic through new-urban villages on both sides of I-485.
Several pieces, including short roads seemingly to nowhere, have been in place for a decade (I-485 was originally scheduled to open here in 2002, after all). The finished network will have six roundabouts and two new service roads along I-485.
Did we mention that I-485 through University City will have eight lanes, vs. four lanes in the traffic-clogged part of I-85 in southeast Mecklenburg? Going last can have its benefits.
Project updates and plans
- I-485 plans at NC Department of Transportation >> GO
- I-85 and I-485 updates on the NC DOT Facebook page >> GO
- View plans for Prosperity Villages >> GO
- View plans for realigned Johnston-Oehler Road >> GO
- Watch the turbine-interchange video >> GO
- Take a simulated drive down I-485 >> GO