NC Accelerates Interstate Construction Projects -

NC Accelerates Interstate Construction Projects

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Many major interstates in and around the Charlotte metro are getting upgrades, including construction to finish the I-485 outer loop, the widening of I-85, and work on the interchange of I-485 and I-85.

“It’s (the construction has) definitely been going on a long time, but I think it’s a necessary evil,”  said Driver Cale Johnson.

And we’re told it could have been more time-consuming, if not for a new way of doing things.

In order to fast track the three major projects and finish them all in the same year, the North Carolina Department of Transportation used a funding mechanism they say has never been used before in North Carolina.

It’s called design-build-finance.

Jen Thompson, spokesperson for the DOT, explains design-build-finance. She says, “It’s like a deferred payment schedule like you do on a credit card, where you make a big purchase on a big ticket item, and you defer your payments over a certain amount of time.”

Thompson says the DOT does not have to pay interest, and the state makes payments to the I-485 contractor over a period of ten years, which is a longer than usual time-frame.

The bundle of projects involving I-85 and I-485 are scheduled to be wrapped up at different times, but all are set to be finished by the end of 2014. Under the traditional funding mechanism, Thompson says some of the improvements wouldn’t have started until 2015.

Johnson says the construction is worth the temporary hassle. “It’s going to save a lot of people more grief than it’s causing right now I think.”

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