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The work has taken longer than expected, but construction on a long-sought replacement for the harrowing Interstate 85 bridge near Salisbury will mark a milestone this weekend when the current two-lane northbound traffic is moved from the narrow old bridge to a new four-lane bridge.
Gov. Bev Perdue traveled to the site of the half-mile-long I-85 Yadkin River bridges project Thursday to announce the traffic shift, set to take place early Saturday morning. That's almost two months later than the state Department of Transportation had expected to make the change, according to DOT officials and a timeline posted at the project website.
DOT had predicted that both northbound and southbound drivers would be off the old bridge -- two lanes in each direction -- by May 21. When that happens, now scheduled for July, northbound and southbound drivers will share the new four-lane northbound bridge temporarily.
The twin four-lane bridge for southbound traffic now is expected to open in early 2013, instead of early November as scheduled earlier.
The narrow bridge, built in 1955, carries 70,000 cars and trucks every day on the main interstate highway between Richmond and Atlanta. Its replacement will give travelers a faster and less frightening trip over the Yadkin River. DOT is spending more than $200 million to replace the bridge and add new lanes to a nearby stretch of I-85.