SALISBURY N.C. — Gov. Bev Perdue said Thursday the Yadkin River Bridge is open for business. She announced the first phase of opening the new bridge with transportation officials Thursday.
The Interstate 85 northbound lanes will open to drivers around midnight Saturday, a part of the state's biggest infrastructure and safety investment.
The new lanes span more than three miles on I-85 from Long Ferry Road to just north of the NC-150 interchange.
“It’s in under budget, under calender as we let cars and trucks come across tomorrow night,” said Perdue.
According to NCDOT officials, the bridge will be safer. Shoulders 12 feet wide will make traffic delays from accidents less severe and assist emergency crews.
Perdue said that’s reason enough to invest more than $200 million in the overhaul.
"I understood the hazards. I myself had been afraid on a cold, slick night,” said Perdue.
“This is the top priority project not just in Division 9 which I represent but really for NCDOT as a whole,” said NCDOT Division Engineer Pat Ivey.
Ivey said planning and funding took more than a decade to secure. The state's Mobility Fund is ultimately making Phase Two through U.S. 29/70 possible.
“It's a funding stream for important statewide projects, and this is a statewide project no matter where you live," said Perdue.
Come July, two more lanes of the north bridge will open to southbound traffic, allowing demolition of the old bridge to begin and a smoother ride for more than 60,000 drivers passing through here daily.
“There will always be lots of cars and always a full supply of 18 wheelers which means commerce is going up and down our coast,” said Perdue.
Construction is continuing on the I-85 southbound bridge until January. The entire project should be finished early next year.