CHARLOTTE, NC -- After years of waiting, the initial roadwork began Monday morning to widen part of I-485 between I-77 and Rea Road. Crews are working overnight for several weeks to avoid disrupting the busy morning commute along the stretch of road.
NCDOT says it's hoping to make the construction phase of the project as painless as possible for commuters who are already frustrated from waiting years in traffic.
"It takes a good chunk of your life, when you add it up, at the end of the year," said commuter Jennifer Pulliam.
Pulliam has driven I-485 for 10 years, twice a day
"My commute is from anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour."
Pulliam isn't alone. It's estimated 120,000 motorists drive the stretch of I-485 everyday on their way to and from work, often sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
The section between I-77 and Rea Road is the oldest part, mainly with just two lanes in each direction.
"It’s usually stop and go all the way, so I sometimes get off the freeway, and take side streets to get to work," said Mishael Brown, commuter.
NCDOT communications officer Jen Thompson tells NBC Charlotte the lane construction work will begin in late Spring, and that the lanes will be built inside the median, limiting the impact on daily commuters. Thompson also said contractors will face time restrictions on work to certain lanes and ramps.
The project's completion date is estimated for December 2014.