Lane Shifts and Ramp Closures On Way for I-85 Improvement Project

Motorists who travel through the work zone for the Interstate 85 upgrade project now underway in Vance and Warren counties will encounter a series of lane shifts and ramp closures over the next several weeks.

On Friday evening, Jan. 15, I-85 North traffic will shift over to the southbound side between U.S. 158 Bypass West/Dabney Drive and U.S. 1. To provide travel lanes for the northbound traffic, vehicles going south will use the outside lanes.

This two-lane, two-way pattern is expected to remain in place until November 2016. As part of this work, the U.S. 1 Bypass on-ramp from I-85 South will close, and drivers will follow a signed detour beginning at Exit 220 (Flemingtown Road) and allowed access to the U.S. 1 South Bypass on-ramp from U.S. 1 Business/U.S. 158.

Other closures taking place will affect the eastbound U.S. 158 ramp to I-85, as well as the I-85 North on-ramp from the northbound U.S. 1 Bypass. Signed detours will be in place for those areas as well, moving traffic along U.S. 1 Business/U.S. 158 to the Flemingtown Road interchange at I-85 (Exit 220).

Later this month, traffic in Warren County will also undergo a shift, with I-85 North vehicles moving to I-85 South to share those lanes between mile markers 224 and 229.

The timing of the shifts and closures depends on the progress of the prep work needed, as well as weather conditions.

It is all part of a five-year, $137.3-million project that will upgrade the interstate between Dabney Road in Vance County and the Virginia state line. In addition to repairing the deteriorating road surface, the work calls for replacing the bridges on I-85 and improving bridges going over the interstate. That includes raising the clearance on several of those bridges to create safer conditions for tractor trailers traveling underneath them along the interstate.

A project this big means considerable impacts for motorists with lane and ramp closures, traffic shifts and detours needed through the end of the project in 2020. And it’s not just the interstate that will be affected, as roads such as N.C. 39 and Satterwhite Point Road, which provides key access to Kerr Lake State Recreation Area will have lane restrictions and closings at times.

They are all improvements needed because of the expected increase in traffic volume on this key connector highway for travelers and commercial trucking that links cities of the Mid-Atlantic and northeast United States to Greensboro, Charlotte and Atlanta. Traffic that is currently at about 37,800 vehicles a day is projected to go up to 60,000 per day over the next 20 years.

NCDOT staff is working closely with local officials, towns, schools and emergency services to make sure everyone knows when their areas will be impacted. For more information about the project, you can contact NCDOT Resident Engineer Boyd Tharrington at or (919) 562-7000.

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