I-77 toll construction could impact culverts in place

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Any future repairs or replacements of the culverts on Interstate 77 when the toll-lane project is completed will be funded by I-77 Mobility Partners, according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

This comes after Channel 9 obtained NCDOT bridge inspection reports that list the culverts and some bridge structures in fair and poor condition.

The culvert located 0.6 mile south of Exit 35 is in poor condition, according to NCDOT. The inspection report estimates the bridge has about 30 years remaining on its life.
Two other culverts, one 0.32 mile north of Exit 30 and the other 0.36 mile south of Exit 30, were listed in good condition but estimated to have about 40 years remaining.
However, the channel and channel protection were found to be rated just fair.
NCDOT's contract with I-77 Mobility Partners is for 50 years.
"Beginning next spring, I-77 Mobility Partners is responsible for monitoring and maintaining the roadway features, including the culverts," Robert Broome, NCDOT director of communications, said. "At the end of the contract, all roadway features have to be in satisfactory condition. If they're not, I-77 Mobility Partners is required to repair, rehabilitate or replace the features."
Photos included in the bridge inspection reports show leaking hairline cracks, scrapes and erosion.

PHOTOS of these culverts
Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jim Puckett is asking NCDOT about the state's plans in the event a culvert needs to be replaced and the toll lanes are temporarily shut down.
The culverts are more than 50 years old and their life expectancy may be shorter than anticipated. Puckett also said the Lake Norman Marine Commission puts the average culvert lifespan at 75-100 years.
"If the state has to replace them, if there is any loss of revenue to the toll company during construction and renovation, my guess is we would have to pay them for that lost revenue," Puckett said.
Ron Vanderbilt, a Huntersville resident who has been studying bridge conditions on I-77, said the state needs to take action on this.
"I think there is a major concern," Vanderbilt said. "You're going to have not just increased traffic, but also construction and construction equipment causing vibrations. The construction equipment may cause more cracks to the culverts and enlarge the ones they already have. Ultimately there could be more damage."