View I-85 Yadkin River Bridge in a larger map
Construction will start in October on an eight-lane bridge to replace the antique, four-lane structure that carries Interstate 85 across the Yadkin River at Salisbury.
Sixty thousand cars and trucks cross the narrow, 55-year-old bridge every day. It's one of the most congested, nerve-wracking stretches of I-85 between Richmond and Atlanta.
Gene Conti, the state transportation secretary, signed the $136 million bridge contract today with Flatiron Constructors and the Lane Construction Corp. The job is to be finished in 2013.
The work involves more than the I-85 bridge itself. Also part of the contract are:
* Replacing the parallel bridges that cross over the North Carolina Railroad tracks located north of the river;
* Replacing the parallel bridges over the Duke Power Industrial Rail Spur located south of river;
* Replacing the bridge that carries U.S. 29/70 North over the river;
* Reconstructing the interchange of I-85 at N.C. 150;
* Removing the interchange of I-85 at Clark Road;
* Widening about three miles of I-85 from four lanes to eight lanes; and
* Building noise walls.
NCDOT hopes to award a related contract later this year, to double the width of a four-lane stretch of I-85 mostly north of the bridge. That will depend on whether the General Assembly agrees this summer with Gov. Bev Perdue's proposal to pay for it by creating a new N.C. Mobility Fund.
Perdue wants to inaugurate the Mobility Fund with $74.6 million in DMV fee hikes and $22 million that would have been diverted from the Highway Trust Fund to the General Fund. Over the next two or three years she wants to build it up to $300 million a year, partly by collecting more taxes on new car sales.
The Yadkin I-85 project would soak up everything in the Mobility Fund for a couple of years, and then state officials would find other places to spend the money in the future.