CHARLOTTE, N.C. – NBC Charlotte is following all the potential traffic impacts as Hurricane Irma evacuees head into the Charlotte area.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation is taking steps to ease traffic flow over the coming days. They say one of the main concerns is congestion on the north-south highways, like I-77 or I-85.
Now, NBC Charlotte is looking into what you need to know if you’re hitting the road.
From Florida to South Carolina, the interstates are jam packed with stories of frustration.
“Traffic is never this congested,” said one man evacuating from South Carolina.
“Sometimes taking 15 to 20 minutes to go a couple miles. It hasn’t been fun,” says Susan Messenger, who is evacuating from St. Petersburg, Florida.
NBC Charlotte talked to drivers off I-77 heading north just as Hurricane Irma is expected to do.
“I’m in an evacuation zone,” says Messenger.
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster tweeted an interactive map letting drivers know the best way out of town. NCDOT tells NBC Charlotte road work and lane closures will be suspended starting Friday at 7 p.m. and until further notice.
“I thought to myself, ‘That would be so much help to have some of those lane closures just not be there temporarily’, to open up one more lane would be a big help, so that’s wonderful to hear,” says Messenger.
Meanwhile, the Charlotte Motor Speedway is opening its Rock City campground as a shelter for evacuees starting at 7 a.m. on Friday.
Some evacuees are just grateful to be moving at all.
“I’ll put up with the traffic, instead of being in a place where you know you’re literally in harms way,” said one man.
NCDOT says they’re not aware of any major traffic impacts in the Charlotte area right now, but they’ll be closely watching.