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BALLANTYNE, N.C. -- Drivers in the south Charlotte suburb of Ballantyne cheered after hearing that the promised widening of I-485 would start nearly two years sooner than anticipated.

The State Department of Transportation awarded the $83.3 million contract to Lane Construction to widen the highway from the I-77 interchange out to Rea Road.

Work is expected to begin by next spring to add one lane in each direction and a massive flyover which would make it easier to get on the highway from Route 521.

I think it is good news, said Peter Lapinski, a driver who says he regularly uses back roads to avoid 485.

It may improve the flow of traffic significantly, Lapinski said.

Another driver, Jim Bryan said, when I first moved down here that thing became obsolete the day after it opened.

But there are still those who say an added lane isn't going to help because what s needed are newer forms of mass transit to get people out of their cars.

When asked if he thought the added lanes would help, driver Alan Berkeley said, It never has before. Look at California.

The contract calls for the work to be completed by late 2014.

OK we need it now but I guess 2014 is the best we can do so I'll take it, said Danielle Hinson as she got ready to climb into her car for the trip home.

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