by: Jim Bradley Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - It's been a work in progress for years, but work on the Interstate 485 loop is set to be finished in just a few months.
It will be the last leg on the outer loop connecting Interstate 85 and I-77.
On Monday, Channel 9 reporter Jim Bradley got a behind the scenes look at the project.
The first planning for a loop around Charlotte actually started in 1975.
Almost 40 years later, construction on the I-485 loop is finally nearing completion.
Nat Hunter is the DOT’s man in the middle of the project.
He drove Channel 9 past the barriers keeping the public out and maneuvered our cameras onto I-485's pristine pavement.
“Overall, we are about 85 percent complete,” Hunter said.
SPECIAL SECTION: I-485 widening
Chopper 9 offered the best perspective to see the work going on.
It's a 5.7-mile stretch where crews are trying to finally close the loop.
I-485 has been open to traffic for years from I-85 around Mint Hill, Ballantyne and up to I-77.
But the missing link connecting I-85 and I-77 has been a critical gap for Charlotte drivers and one that State Transportation Secretary Tony Tata told Channel 9 is a priority he expects to be finished by the end of the year.
“It'll be a great thing to be able to have that loop all the way around Charlotte,” Tata said.
But there's still a lot to do first.
A concrete plant built right in the middle of I-485 still has to churn out enough material to pave about 2 miles of road-bed not yet ready to drive on.
Still, a December completion date is still expected for a project many drivers said can't come soon enough.
Come Christmas time could people be driving out here?” Channel 9 asked Hunter.
“Yep, right around the end of December. That's what we're shooting for,” Hunter said.
The DOT said the only wildcard in finishing before the end of the year is weather. If it's raining, like it was Monday, they can't pour concrete and that could slow things down.
The contractor said it will use 173,000 cubic yards of concrete or about 19,000 cement trucks full.