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New Yadkin River bridge to open on Saturday

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SALISBURY, N.C. — The replacement for an aging and deficient bridge on Interstate 85 in North Carolina will open this weekend, easing traffic along a key route between Atlanta and points north.

Gov. Beverly Perdue said Thursday the new I-85 North bridge over the Yadkin River near Salisbury will open early Saturday.

“This new bridge is part of a more than $200 million investment we’ve made to widen I-85 and replace the aging bridges over the Yadkin River,” said Gov. Perdue.

Construction started on the new I-85 North bridge in February 2011. At its peak, more than 200 people worked 24-hours a day, six to seven days a week to complete the new bridge on time. Crews finished building the 0.5-mile bridge in roughly 14 months, an impressive accomplishment by construction industry standards.

The new bridge features four lanes – twice as many as the old I-85 North bridge. The additional lanes will significantly improve traffic flow through the area. The new bridge also has a 12-foot-wide shoulder on each side to improve safety. The old bridge has virtually no shoulders. When an accident occurs, traffic backs up for miles on I-85, making it difficult for emergency crews to help those in need.

The old I-85 North bridge was built in 1955 and no longer meets the needs of today’s traveling public. Replacing it with a new bridge built to modern design standards will extend the life of the state’s transportation network for decades to come.

The first phase of the project includes widening 3.3 miles of I-85 to eight lanes from north of Long Ferry Road (Exit 81) in Rowan County to just north of the N.C. 150 interchange in Davidson County, reconstructing the N.C. 150 interchange and replacing eight bridges, including the Yadkin River bridges.

The second phase of the project extends the widening work 3.8 miles to just north of I-85 Business in Davidson County and reconstructs the I-85 interchange at Belmont Road.

The project is scheduled to be complete in May 2013.

It cost more than $200 million to widen the interstate and replace the aging bridges.