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Va. drivers headed to N.C. may want to detour and avoid construction

Traffic moves along I-85

RALEIGH, N.C. – Drivers planning to travel along Interstate 85 between Vance County and the Virginia state line over the Memorial Day holiday weekend and through the summer need to be aware of a major construction project that may affect their trip, warned NCDOT.

Earlier this month, southbound traffic was shifted to the inside lane on the northbound side, creating a two-way pattern with each direction in a single lane between the beginning of the project limits in Henderson to near Norlina.

Northbound and southbound traffic is currently in a single lane from near Norlina to the state line, with southbound traffic in this area being shifted to the inside lane on the northbound side in early June. This pattern is scheduled to remain in place into late this year.

The shifts are part of a five-year project to repair the deteriorating highway, replace bridges on I-85 and improve bridges over the interstate to create safer conditions for tractor trailers traveling underneath them.

Travelers can avoid potential major backups on I-85 by using alternate routes.

To remain on interstate roads, southbound drivers coming through Richmond can stay on I-95 at the I-85/95 split in Petersburg, and take it to Rocky Mount in North Carolina. They would then go west on U.S. 64/Future I-495 to I-540 West around north Raleigh to I-40 West, then proceed to I-85 South near Hillsborough.

A second option to get to I-85 South from I-40 West is to use N.C. 147 North (Durham Freeway).

Drivers heading north from the Triad, Charlotte and points south could follow that route in reverse.

Motorists already south of Petersburg on southbound I-85 can skip potential backups by getting on U.S. 58 East in South Hill, Virginia, at exit 12, and cutting across to I-95. From there, drivers can follow the previous alternate route.

The DOT will utilize a traffic monitoring system that determines when traffic speeds have been reduced significantly, indicating congestion from traffic volume or a crash. In such situations, message boards located along I-85 South in South Hill at U.S. 58, at the I-85/I-40 split near Hillsborough, and at the Durham Freeway will direct drivers to those alternate routes.

Drivers can lower the chance of being caught in a major congestion backup by traveling at non-peak travel times. They can help avoid being in a crash and causing a major backup by using extra caution through the work zone, obeying the speed limit and avoiding distractions.

For real-time travel information for I-85 and other roadways across the state, visit DriveNC.gov or follow NCDOT on Twitter.