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Traffic Congestion and Highway Construction

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The article states that the extra wide shoulder should be open as a HOV lane is only a temporary solution if it happens at all, the next widening phase won't be until 2018, with a completion date of 2019 or 2020. So that if the DOT decides to let that extra spacing to be used as a HOV lane NOW, then they will have to figure out what to do when the lanes drop from 4 to 2 until the next phase of widening. The contractor only did paving to allow the extra room up to Johnston Road, between that and Rea Road there isn't really much room without having to lay down foundation for a road bed in the median. Essentially, the widening project is complete, it just need an extra layer of asphalt which is prohibited by the weather right now. 

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Because having 4 lanes merge into 2 will work so much better than 3 merging into 2. Just look at how 77 works doing that North of 485 in Huntersville.

And if this 485 fiasco is any indication, 77 will never be tolled. If politicians quickly cave to South Charlotteans complaining about not even an hour-long backup beside one lane blocked off, just wait for Lake Norman to flood politicians' ears, once they finally realize their multiple hours of backups won't have any free access to two new lanes.

Edited by southslider

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Back when construction was delayed, was there mention of the start date on paving for the final segment of 485? Isn't there a traditional date where paving won't begin until that date is reached for any paving projects in NC?

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NCDOT is giving Charlotte three choices on the unopened 485 lanes. The city can open the lane now as a carpool lane, open it as a general purpose lane, or just leave it unused. If Charlotte decides to open the lane as a general purpose lane, it might make it difficult later to convert it to a toll lane.

 

http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2015/02/09/5505104/dot-to-city-your-choice-on-i-485.html#.VNlopS4r9mM

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^Meanwhile, Lake Norman is given zero choice to forgo toll lanes.

I don't really mind the toll lanes because it will help ease congestion. It will be free for those who take 48 & 77X. I don't commute uptown & I rarely deal with traffic problems around LKN (Except 5pm traffic outbound on Statesville & Pulling out to turn on Catawba avenue)

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A few quick updates on the 85/485 interchange near the Mecklenburg/Cabarrus line:

  • Work along I-85 appears to be all but finished. The barrier walls that lined the shoulder have been removed, making it clear that the stretch of 85 that passes under 485 will be three lanes in each direction. The interstate becomes four lanes again immediately after the interchange in each direction. Going south on 85, an auxiliary lane has been added from 485 to Mallard Creek Church; the interstate then becomes four lanes again. Going north on 85, an auxiliary lane has been added from 485 to Concord Mills, with an additional lane being added from 485 to Poplar Tent. The interstate then becomes four lanes again at the Poplar Tent exit. Like 85, 485 will drop to three lanes in each direction going through this interchange, picking back up to four lanes on the other side.
  • For the most part, traffic flows better through this area now. I haven't seen delays on 85 South since the additional lanes were opened up. 85 North still backs up at the 485 interchange in the evenings as merging traffic from Mallard Creek Church and traffic exiting onto 485 fight for space. 85 North has never had four lanes through this stretch, so it's not like it "lost" a lane. However, it seems that an additional through lane (with the option to exit from this additional lane) might have helped this merge. Four lanes merge from 485 onto 85 North; if one of those lanes ended before entering 85, there would have been room for an additional northbound lane. This issue may clear up when the rest of the 485 project is done though. An additional exit lane from 85 North to 485 will open, and traffic that currently takes Mallard Creek Church to get to 85/485 from the Prosperity Church and Mallard Creek areas may end up getting onto 485 at the new interchanges instead, reducing the amount of traffic passing through this particular area in the evenings.
  • The far right lane of 85 North is a death trap on weekends, when traffic backs up heading to Concord Mills. On an average Saturday, the backup of this lane extends almost to 485. There is a slight hill after you pass through the 485 interchange, making it difficult to see the brake lights more than a car or two ahead of you. With the extra lanes and better-flowing traffic, drivers now travel through this area at a higher rate of speed than ever before. Unfortunately, too many of them either aren't paying enough attention or simply don't anticipate the backups in this lane. I get as far to the left as I can driving through here, but have already passed several accidents since the new lanes opened in this stretch. The amount of skid marks through here pretty much tells the story. This may improve as some traffic will likely take the Mallard Creek interchange on 485 when it opens, but it's possible that even more traffic will be over toward the right as folks coming from 77 may now be merging from 485 (on the right) rather than being forced onto 85 North (and being in the leftmost travel lanes) several miles earlier. There is still a concrete barrier on the 85 North ramp to Concord Mills that blocks one of the right turn lanes. When this is removed, this may help somewhat. In the meantime, I would suggest staying left through here, especially on the weekends.
  • The ramp from 85 South onto 485 Inner (toward Matthews and Pineville) appears to be in its final configuration now with two lanes accessible for nearly the entire duration of the ramp. This ramp was originally striped for both lanes to continue onto 485 Inner, but this has now been permanently changed to have one lane drop off shortly before reaching 485. I watched the video of the interchange design again, and it's clear that it was built with the intention of having both lanes continue. However, I'm thankful they modified that design. Under the previous pattern, traffic merging from 85 North onto 485 Inner had a very short distance (which passes very quickly at interstate speeds) to merge. With this new pattern, traffic coming from 85 North now has a free-flowing auxiliary lane to the Highway 29 exit a short distance away.
  • Merging onto 485 Inner (the only accessible option, currently) from 85, there are now signs that denote the speed limit as 70 miles per hour. These are new to this stretch, and the only ones I know of in the Charlotte area. Along 485 Outer, the speed limit signs still say 65 miles per hour, and other signs further down 485 Inner still say 65 as well. I'm not sure what area the speed limit of 70 will cover, whether it will be the area around the new interchange or stretch further down toward Mint Hill or Matthews, where most drivers already drive as though the speed limit is 80.
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I wondered why did they allowed three lanes underneath Popular Tent when there's plenty of room for more? 

 

On the next phase of the I-85 widening, Dale Earnhart has a weird interchange, but it's due to the weaving between the rest area, so now those needing to exit onto the rest area ramp won't have to weave with those trying to get onto I-85 South from Dale Earnhart.

 

http://www.ncdot.gov/projects/i-85widening/download/DaleEarnhardtBoulevardInter.pdf

Edited by Nolan

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From what I have read on the last 2 pages it seems statue quo for NCDOT and it esteemed team of engineers. Highly disappointed that 85/485 is still under-engineered. Additionally, the 85/77 interchange still soldiers on as an example of NC still stuck in the 1950's and not bringing Charlotte's road system up to its peer city level.

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#youhadonejob

 

13i7Du.Em.138.jpegIs this the way it looks now?  It really looked stupid when the cables weren't lit. It is funny that the purpose is to let passersby know that Cornelius is the "Port Town" even though going swimming from a public beach is not possible. The city is also trying to make it an artsy place. God knows what is planned to attract the "artsy" exhibits or followers?

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I figured they were going for a sailing ship thing. What they got was steel telephone poles with small gauge steel cable that can't be seen at night because there's not enough surface to reflect light. It's so weird and underwhelming that I've been in the car with people that didn't notice it at all. 

 

They could save it with some actual stretch fabric pieces. 

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The real thing looks nothing like the rendering.....

And, it is just as useful as the emerging diamond at exit #28.  Seriously, couldn't they have used that wasted money to build a Cornelius rail station for the future when we will desperately need a rail to Charlotte but will be too late?

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The real thing looks nothing like the rendering.....

For what it's worth, the project isn't finished yet. Work will resume when the weather warms. They have to build the brick pilings and take care of landscaping. Not sure if anything remains to be done to the "sails" themselves. I'll reserve judgement until everything is finished.

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Browsing this topic I noticed a question about why the northern routing was chosen for the Shelby bypass. This is a bit of ancient history (both the post and the bypass routing), of course, but the bypass was originally going to take the southern route; they discovered some sort of unique plant in that route.

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Browsing this topic I noticed a question about why the northern routing was chosen for the Shelby bypass. This is a bit of ancient history (both the post and the bypass routing), of course, but the bypass was originally going to take the southern route; they discovered some sort of unique plant in that route.

 

Might've been that daisy they made a big to-do about some years ago, it was discovered in one field and never elsewhere. I only recall because rare plants are as much a pursuit of mine as urban progress.

 

Either way, concerning the bypass I'll be more optimistic than some I've spoken to locally about its future; it may not render itself useless by sprawl. After buildout in another few decades maybe people will be smarter about growth, even outside urban centers, and the car culture won't win right out of the gate.

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Well, locally I think it's going to be a terrible thing for Shelby. All of the service-oriented businesses in town are on the US 74 strip, starting at Ingles (US-226 and US-74) and going to the nearly-dead mall (US-74 and BUS 74). Many of those will die, and the town has very little in the way of employment alternatives. However, in the larger (regional) context, the bypass is sorely needed, as the development was horribly managed and it takes forever to get through there at any busy period. To add insult to injury, the slowness also means that the roads are in terrible condition; the semi-trucks traveling US-74 end up getting jammed at the Shelby stop lights and destroy the asphalt when accelerating. For my money, it's the worst part of US-74 between Asheville and Wilmington, followed closely by the Monroe area.

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Well, locally I think it's going to be a terrible thing for Shelby. All of the service-oriented businesses in town are on the US 74 strip, starting at Ingles (US-226 and US-74) and going to the nearly-dead mall (US-74 and BUS 74). Many of those will die, and the town has very little in the way of employment alternatives. However, in the larger (regional) context, the bypass is sorely needed, as the development was horribly managed and it takes forever to get through there at any busy period. To add insult to injury, the slowness also means that the roads are in terrible condition; the semi-trucks traveling US-74 end up getting jammed at the Shelby stop lights and destroy the asphalt when accelerating. For my money, it's the worst part of US-74 between Asheville and Wilmington, followed closely by the Monroe area.

 

I agree 1000%. They are essentially building a road so that people will spend less time in Shelby. I think a better solution to their so-called "traffic problems" would be to route traffic along 'Business 74' through their downtown - which is actually quite nice. By improving that road and routing more traffic there you'd make better use of an existing facility, and probably pump some more life into that city's economy than a bypass road would offer.

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