I-5719/U-5800 I-85 Widening in Gaston County
I-5719/U-5800 I-85 Widening in Gaston County
The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) proposes to widen I-85 in Gaston County from U.S. 321 (Exit 17) in Gastonia to N.C. 273 (Exit 27) in Belmont/Mt. Holly, about 9.8 miles. To complete the widening and improve traffic operations and safety, the majority of the bridges over I-85 will need to be replaced as part of this project.
In addition, STIP Project U-5800 is also being studied and included in the environmental documentation of I‑5719. STIP Project U-5800 proposes improvements to the intersection of N.C. 7 (South Main Street) and U.S. 29/74 (Wilkinson Boulevard) in Belmont.
The purpose of the proposed improvements to I-85 is to reduce congestion and improve mobility in this growing area of Gaston County. The primary needs to be addressed by STIP Project No. I-5719 are the existing and projected lack of capacity and outdated roadway design on the I-85 corridor. This results in frequent congestion and delays limiting east-west mobility. The congestion is a contributing factor to increased crash incidents.
The primary need for the improvements to the intersection of North Main Street and Wilkinson Boulevard is to alleviate congestion and improve safety at the intersection. The primary purpose is to improve traffic operations and safety at the intersection.
Project Study Area Map
This map is for reference only and is a representation of the general project area.
The proposed project will widen the existing interstate mainline from six to eight lanes. An additional through-lane in each direction of I-85 is proposed for a total of four through-lanes in each direction. Auxiliary lanes will also be constructed in select locations. Auxiliary lanes are continuous lanes between two interchanges to help traffic flow, especially when interchanges are closely spaced.
Since there is not enough clearance to widen I-85 under most of the existing bridges and interchanges, the majority of roadway and railroad bridges over I-85 will be replaced as part of I-5719. Eleven roadway bridges and four railroad bridges will be replaced. Most interchanges will also be redesigned to improve traffic operations. All bridges over I-85 will be replaced utilizing phased construction or a temporary detour bridge except Groves Street in Lowell.
The U.S. 29/74 (Wilkinson Boulevard) and N.C. 7 (N. Main Street) intersection in Belmont will be converted to a reduced conflict intersection (RCI). Corridors with growing traffic volumes and high crash rates, like North Main Street and Wilkinson Boulevard, are good candidates for a RCI design. RCIs function by cutting more than half of the potential conflict points where drivers, pedestrians, and/or bicyclists can collide.
A video of RCIs can be viewed below.
Initial project coordination and concept development for the proposed I-85 Widening project began in 2016. Technical studies began in 2017 to identify potential impacts to the human and natural environment and inform development of preliminary roadway designs. Public meetings were held in May 2019 to present design concepts and gather public input. In September 2019, the I-5719/U-5800 project was placed on hold due to statewide transportation funding constraints. The project was restarted and suspended again in 2020, before restarting the project development process in January 2021. Since the restart in 2021, NCDOT has worked with local stakeholders and regulatory agencies to select the best design option while considering public input and complying with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
STIP Project U-3608, improvements to North Main Street (N.C. 7) from I-85 to U.S. 29/74 in Belmont was previously included with STIP Projects I-5719 and U-5800. However, due to the relocation of the Belmont Mt Holly Road interchange with I-85 and the reconfiguration of N.C. 7 and Main Street, U-3608 is now included as part of I-5719.
These projects are expected to be constructed via the design‐build process. Design‐Build is a contracting process that brings designers and contractors together to expedite construction, enhance innovation and/or reduce costs. Once the design‐build team of designers and contractors is selected and under contract, they will be responsible for the final design, necessary environmental regulatory permits, right of way acquisition, and construction of the project. The team may begin construction while they finish the design and right of way acquisition, resulting in faster project completion.
A video overview of the proposed improvements can be viewed below.
Download/View All Project Maps
A video explaining how to read a public hearing or meeting map can be viewed below. The video contains information on colors and symbols used.
These projects are listed as Projects I-5719 and U-5800 in the N.C. Department of Transportation’s State Transportation Improvement Program and are funded for $635 million.
* Costs are preliminary and subject to change
Public Meeting 1
Public Meeting 2
* Future dates are preliminary and subject to change; +anticipate Federal CE
For information about the project such as estimated costs, schedule, and maps, please visit our project webpage:
NCDOT accepts comments throughout all phases of project development.
The public is encouraged to leave comments using this website, email, or phone number:
Phone Number: 512-580-8850 enter project code 5194
The comment period for this project closes on September 23, 2022.