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CORNELIUS, N.C. -- Parents in Lake Norman are being assured steps are being taken for a smooth back-to-school, despite major construction along I-77's Exit 28.

The construction of the new diamond interchange is causing major back-up in Cornelius.

Drivers are reporting it takes half an hour to get from one side of the bridge to another during peak times.

Assistant Town Manager, Andrew Grant says town officials have been coordinating with NCDOT, CMS, and local law enforcement to ensure a smooth first day of school.

"They are making adjustments to some of those signals to allow for better traffic of the buses, so buses can get to school quicker," said Grant.

Grant says officers will be on hand directing traffic at certain intersections.

Bus drivers have gone on practice-runs through the affected routes in preparation for classes Monday.

Parent Tai Mercer says she is now considering putting her son on the bus for the first time.

"One is in daycare, one is in school, and even with the later start times, which is 8:45 a.m., there is no way we can get everyone where they need to be," she said.

Local businesses have also seen a negative impact to the bottom line.

Joel Pfyffer owns Prosciutto Pizza, located not far from West Cawtaba Avenue.

He says at the height of rush hour, it take 20 minutes to just get to the intersection from his restaurant.

"I have friends that come in every Friday night, and pretty much told me a month and a half ago, 'hey, we will see you in November.' They live in Davidson and it takes so long to get here, it's just not worth it," said Joel Pfyffer.

"Businesses are hurting. Business are down about 15 to 30-percent," said Bill Russell of the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce.

Representatives have since visited 150 nearby businesses to update owners on the latest construction schedule.

NCDOT has accelerated the project so an additional eastbound lane will open in mid-September, and additional westbound lane in October.

Until then, drivers are being asked to find alternate routes during rush hours, and the public is encouraged to help local business stay afloat.

"You are going to spend extra 20 minutes in the car, but you are going to save a job, and you might actually save a business," said Russell.

The project is slated for completion in November.

Back-to-school traffic concerns addressed WCNC

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