Emergency repair shuts down I-485 during rush hour

by: Catherine Bilkey Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Duke Energy shut down a portion of Interstate 485 near Highway 51 for 10 minutes on Wednesday during rush hour.

“'Horrendous' was the way to describe that,” driver Christopher Adams said.

Conditions were so bad drivers made their own cut-through to avoid the traffic.

“We certainly apologize for any delays that occurred to motorists on their way home from work,” Lisa Parrish, with Duke Energy, said.

She said it was necessary because there was an immediate safety issue.

Construction crews working to widen I-485 hit electrical equipment and Duke Energy found out they had hit a primary-neutral electrical line.

“A primary-neutral line is very important,” Parrish said. “It controls voltage. It prevents our customers from having fluctuations in their power. It also prevents electric shocks.”

That’s why Parrish said they couldn’t wait until after rush hour to do the repairs and why they shut down both north- and southbound lanes.

“This was a safety issue,” Parrish said. “We had to get in and make the repairs.”

Duke Energy officials released the following statement:

"I-485 is now open.

We apologize for any delays this caused motorist, however this was a safety issue.

It was important for us to take immediate action to make the repairs. We received a priority call at 1:28 p.m. today that constructions crews working to widen I-485 in Charlotte had hit some of our electrical equipment. Crews were dispatched. When we arrived on scene, we determine it was a primary neutral electrical line had been pulled down.

A neutral provides a pathway for stray voltage. Without the pathway, customers could experience power fluctuations or, in the worst cases (and we haven’t received any reports of this happening) shocking hazards.

Because of the potential safety issues, we made the prudent decision to repair the line as quickly as possible. Per our process, we contacted the highway patrol and begin working to bring in equipment and prepare the area for the repairs.

This is time intensive work, and unfortunately, when everything was ready to make repairs, it was already rush hour. 

Our work is complete and 485 has reopened.

It took about 10 minutes."