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Traffic Relief on the Way for Lake Norman Visitors

Thu August 05, 2010 - Southeast Edition
Eric Olson

Motorists traveling through the Mooresville area of North Carolina to and from Lake Norman have had to deal with a lot of traffic congestion in the last few years as local development activity has dramatically increased. That is particularly true in an area just west of town around the intersection of Interstate 77 and N.C. Highway 150.

A new road project is under way now, though, that should ease some of that congestion.

The State of North Carolina is overseeing two sections of a planned three-phase construction project, totaling about $48 million, along Brawley School Road, located just south-southwest of the I-77/N.C. 150 interchange.

When both sections currently under way are finished, it is hoped that traffic concerns are lessened in an area of southern Iredell County that has witnessed a lot of commercial and residential development in recent years.

The project is located only about 25 mi. north of downtown Charlotte in an area that has become a dynamic place to live, work and play. The Mooresville area has become a popular place to live for people who work in and around Charlotte because of its proximity to Lake Norman. Additionally, local traffic is high in the summer months as vacationers come through on the way to the lake.

With that in mind, crews are currently working to widen Brawley School Road from two lanes to a four-lane, divided boulevard; while another crew is building a new interchange at Brawley School Road and I-77.

The A section of the project, which crews began working on in November 2008, starts near Lake Norman in a largely residential area of greater Mooresville and runs for 3.8 mi. (6 km) north-northeast along Brawley School Road before entering a commercial district near the intersection with Williamson Road.

Charlotte-based Rea Contracting, a division of Lane Construction Corp., is the primary contractor on that part of the project and is doing most of the work itself, including the paving.

Some sections of the planned lanes are already finished, while paving is going on in other areas and part of the new roadway is still being leveled in still other areas between Chuckwood Road and Williamson Road.

All of the work is going on alongside the busy traffic that flows through the area, which can number up to 30,000 vehicles a day.

“We have been initiating a lot of traffic shifts along Brawley School Road in that A section because there a lot of grade elevation changes through there, which makes the work a little difficult,” said John Cook, the NCDOT’s resident engineer on the project. “We are limited on our lane closures due to the high volume of traffic through there, but somewhere around Stutts Road southwest to the lake, we are allowed lane closures from 9 to 3 during the day. From Stutts Road back toward Williamson Road, we can only do lane closures at night.”

Work on Section A of the project has moved along pretty smoothly since the spring, Cook said, because the weather has cooperated, something it did not do last fall and winter when the area saw a lot of rain and snow.

“In the last couple of months, especially, we have been able to get a lot of good work in,” he explained. “We have had rain, but we have also had a lot of good hot days to work in.”

Cook said that the A section is not an especially big field job, but they are doing a lot of chemical stabilization now and the paving work has ramped up lately.

He added that the pace of work tells him that the A section of the project will be completed on time next July.

Work began on the B section in November 2009 and runs east for only 1.2 mi. (1.9 km) from the intersection of Brawley School Road and Williamson Road. This part of the project is the most expensive at roughly $22.6 million due to the fact that it includes all of the I-77 interchange work, as well as two new access lanes of the interstate between Brawley School Road and N.C. 150. In addition, there is a small bridge to be built over a creek just west of I-77.

Brawley School Road will continue across I-77 as a four-lane road before reverting back to a two-lane for a short distance to U.S. Highway 21, southwest of Mooresville. The third section of the project is supposed to expand that part of Brawley School Road to four lanes, too, but it has not yet been funded by the state, Cook said.

Crews from English Construction Company Inc., based in Lynchburg, Va., are coordinating the work on Section B. They have recently driven the piles for the new interchange at I-77, which will bring traffic across the interstate in an X pattern with two lanes heading both east and west. A traffic signal will help move traffic across the overpass and onto the on and off ramps.

The new Brawley School Road interchange will be Exit 35 on I-77.

“We will build the south side of the new bridge first, switch traffic over to that, tear down the old bridge and then build the second half of the bridge,” Cook reported.

Work also is progressing on the construction of a new lane on each side of the interstate running from the future Exit 35 north to Exit 36, which is N.C. 150.

The widening of Brawley School Road in Section B is not yet to the point where any paving has been done, but when it is time to do so, English has subbed the work to Maymead Corp., based in Mountain City, Tenn.

Plans currently call for Section B to be finished by July 1, 2013. CEG

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