A project to widen 29 miles of I-85 from Spartanburg, South Carolina, to the North Carolina border hit another milestone with the opening of two new lanes and direct access to two exits.
Traffic was shifted to the new northbound lanes November 4, according to the S.C. Department of Transportation. That northbound traffic had previously been traveling in southbound lanes while work occurred. The new lanes were built on the outside of the existing northbound lanes.
The new lanes cover six miles between Spartanburg and Cowpens from mile marker 80 to 86. The majority of the entire project, with contracts totaling more than $618 million, is expected to be completed by the end of 2024, according to SCDOT.
Work began in 2017 on rehabilitating and widening 29 miles of I-85 and exits between mile marker 77 and the N.C. line. The goal is to help reduce traffic congestion and improve safety and economic development.
The contractors on the design-build project are a joint venture of Blythe Construction and Zachry Construction, known as BZJV, and Lane Construction.
BZJV, which started construction in 2017 on its $436 million contract, is responsible for 21 miles of rehabilitating and widening from mile marker 77 to mile marker 80 in Spartanburg County and widening the four-lane interstate to six lanes between mile marker 80 and mile marker 98 in Cherokee County. A travel lane will be added in both directions. Interchanges will be reconstructed for four exits, and ramps for four exits will be rehabilitated, along with a new CSX railroad bridge over the interstate. The contract for this section marked the state’s second-largest contract award for an infrastructure project ever, according to SCDOT. The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge over the Cooper River at Charleston was the state’s highest contract award, at about $531 million.
Meanwhile, Lane Construction, awarded a $182 million contract, began work August 2019 on widening 8 miles of the four-lane interstate to six lanes from mile marker 98 to the N.C. line at mile marker 106. Travel lanes are being added in both directions, interchanges reconstructed for four exits and a Norfolk Southern railroad bridge replaced.
“I am pleased to announce another big step forward on the I-85 widening project,” said S.C. Secretary of Transportation Christy A. Hall in announcing the new lanes. “It is well known that this has been a challenging project, and our team has worked hard to advance us to this point. We are not slowing down, and we will deliver on this critical project.”