Reconstruction of the Belmont Bridge
When the N.C. Department of Transportation broke ground on the northern segment of the I-85 Corridor Improvement Project last spring, the agency demonstrated its commitment to improving the efficiency and safety of the state's transportation network. The project, which involves widening 3.8 miles of I-85 to four lanes in each direction (in addition to widening 3.3 miles of I-85 on the southern portion of the project), ensures that I-85 will continue to be one of the region's key corridors for the movement of goods and people, serving a projected 112,000 vehicles per day by 2025.
To widen the interstate, several bridges along the corridor must be removed and rebuilt. At the Belmont Road interchange (Exit 86), motorists have no doubt noticed significant progress on the construction of a new bridge that crosses over I-85. The existing Belmont Road bridge needs to be replaced, because its support structures lay in the path of the new I-85 lanes. The new bridge will not only accommodate the widening of I-85 to eight lanes, but it will also allow NCDOT to improve the safety and efficiency of the Exit 86 on and off ramps during construction.
The contractor, Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Inc./Austin Bridge & Road, a Joint Venture, has completed several steps towards building the new bridge. Crews have moved 244,000 tons of dirt to elevate the ground beneath the new entrance and exit ramps and approaching sections of Belmont Road, and ensure that the bridge is built on solid footing. They have also constructed two retaining walls, one on each end of the new span. These walls, made from specially designed blocks and metal tie-back straps, are essential for minimizing the span of the new bridge over the widened interstate.
As these walls were being constructed, crews also erected the center support structure for the new bridge in the I-85 median. The support structure, made out of heavily reinforced concrete, is supported by 70-foot underground concrete piers to ensure that the structure stays firmly in place for many years to come.
Once the retaining walls and center support structure were in place, the contractor installed 101-foot long concrete girders (support beams) from each end of the bridge to the center support structure. These girders were lifted and set in place with a large crane during overnight hours to minimize the impact on drivers through the work zone. These girders provide the platform on which the new roadway will be built. Photos of the girder installation are available on the Project Photos page of this website.
Crews are currently building the roadway portion of the new bridge, with the bridge deck scheduled to be placed in late March. The new bridge is scheduled to open to traffic by April 22nd.
Once the new bridge opens, crews will demolish and remove the old bridge to make way for I-85 widening, which will occur in the coming months.