NCDOT settles on design for I-85 interchange

Interstate 85 in parts of Archdale and Trinity recently became the subject of proposals by NCDOT.

ARCHDALE — The N.C. Department of Transportation has fortified a plan that will set the stage for a major project at the interchange of Interstate 85 and Main Street.

After receiving input from residents and city officials on a project to realign the interchange, NCDOT officials announced final plans this month for a project initially brought before city residents in 2017. According to a news release, the department chose a diverging diamond design for the interchange it says will reduce congestion and improve safety.

Alternative 1B, as the project is called, will replace the center turn lane on Main Street with a landscaped and concrete median. The project calls for additional sidewalks on both sides of the street between Columbus Avenue and Comanche Road and will add lanes for each on- and off-ramp at I-85 and Main Street.

“This design will make it easier to access the interstate and reduce traffic backups during rush hour in Archdale,” said Jeffrey Teague, the project team leader for NCDOT’s Highway Division 8. “And adding the median along Main Street will dramatically reduce the risk of serious crashes.”

Traffic data and other studies have caused a shift in road projects throughout the state, as NCDOT has moved toward more diverging diamond interchanges. The new interchange will be the latest in a series of projects that have redesigned major intersections.

The new interchange design allows two directions of traffic to cross to the left side of the road while traffic flows from or onto the interstate with the use of traffic signals. According to NCDOT officials, this improves the traffic flow without requiring more traffic signals or lanes.

A frontage road is included in the proposal, which would extend west from Balfour Drive between businesses along the road, ending at Main Street with a new traffic signal at the post office. At an informational meeting last year, NCDOT officials discussed what they referred to as unsafe turns currently involved in getting on and off the interstate.

According to a crash analysis report presented at the meeting, the rate of non-fatal accidents is nearly double the state average. More than 823 crashes per 100 million vehicles are reported at the Archdale interchange, compared to the rate of 490 per 100 million statewide.

Traffic counts at the interchange have reached 24,000 to 25,000 vehicles per day. Proposals for the project indicate it will reduce conflict points by 56 percent.

The $29.3 million project to ease congestion at the interchange is scheduled to begin in 2021.

Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at dkennedy@atnonline.net.