The widening project of Interstate 485 in the Ballantyne area is set to coincide with the start of the new year, transportation officials said Saturday.

The estimated three-year project will expand a 9.2-mile stretch of roadway from Rea Road to I-485, and will also include a flyover bridge from Johnston Road to I-485 West.

Early Saturday, about 100 area residents attended the Ballantyne Breakfast Club meeting to discuss road construction projects and the possibility of future toll lanes. The club convenes six times a year to talk about issues affecting residents in the south Charlotte and Ballantyne areas, said President Ray Eschert.

City and state department of transportation representatives, along with a spokesman from The Bissell Companies, a commercial development company in Charlotte, were also present at the meeting to address construction concerns.

Louis Mitchell, NCDOT division engineer, said the $83.3 million contract widening project is set to be finished by December 2015, and will alleviate congestion on the interstate. This is a year earlier and about $49 million less than anticipated, he said.

Delay is never good, said Mitchell about current traffic flow. We hope the transportation improvement project we have for (I)-485 will improve that.

The interstate extending from Rea Road to I-485 will gain an additional lane in each direction, as well as 22-foot shoulders that will be used as future toll lanes, said Lynn Purnell of Parsons Brinckerhoff, who works closely with the N.C. Department of Transportation.

Stephen Slovensky, who lives in the Piper Glen area, said he is concerned about the amount of traffic that will be using the Rea Road exit as a result of this construction.

It could become a potential thoroughfare into uptown, Slovensky said. And are they going to put in traffic signs there?

Similar concerns about redirected heavy traffic flow were raised by Dominic Russo and his wife, Patricia Russo, who live on End Haven Lane, off of Johnston Road.

We are concerned about the flyover (bridge), Patricia Russo said. So much traffic comes off of (I)-485 that (End Haven) is no longer a cut-through street.

Mitchell said additional lanes and future toll lanes will disperse heavy traffic onto the interstate, and as a result, will also decrease volume in nearby intersections.

Toll lanes, which would be installed in 2025, would not be mandatory for motorists to use. The cost of the toll would depend on the time of day and volume of traffic, said Norm Steinman, with Charlotte Department of Transportation.

In other road improvement updates discussed at the meeting, Bissell Companies said construction on the intersection of Ballantyne Commons Parkway and North Community House Road is scheduled to be completed in the next two weeks.

The improvements will include dual left lanes with signals installed at three corners of the intersection. North Community House Road will also become a four-lane road and stop lights will be installed.

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