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With or without the Panthers, new I-77 interchange construction continues

While the interchange was part of the Carolina Panthers deal, it is a state project outside the control of Tepper’s organizations.

ROCK HILL, S.C. — There’s a lot of uncertainty concerning the Carolina Panthers Training Facility and Headquarters project in Rock Hill, but one thing is clear – a new interchange is still coming to Interstate 77 with or without the Panthers. 

While the interchange was part of the Carolina Panthers deal, it’s a state-run project. While Tepper’s organizations have stopped construction on the Panthers facility, they do not have the power to stop the construction of the new I-77 ramps.

Dubbed ‘the Panther Interchange,' the project is overseen by South Carolina’s Department of Transportation. Work is being done by United Infrastructure Group and Blythe Development.

“The thing that’s really unique about this is the schedule," Brian Stumph, the South Carolina Operations Manager for United Infrastructure Group, said. "From a design-build perspective, this is a really fast interchange to build for what we’re building."

RELATED: 'Break the silence and be transparent' | Panthers owner David Tepper hasn't responded to new offer, SC leaders say

When the Carolina Panthers secured a location off I-77 in 2019, the state moved quickly to make changes to I-77 to provide easy access to the new grounds.  The interchange will feature a bridge and exits between Exit 79 and Exit 82. While Tepper Sports and Entertainment halted construction on their major project last month, work on the new interchange has continued uninterrupted. 

Most of the interchange should be done in a year.  Once complete, the interchange will take you to the Panthers site as well as Celriver Road, which connects to restaurants, stores and other major roads.

Construction of the interchange is also unique because, according to Stumph, the bridge over the interstate will have the longest steel beams ever set in South Carolina. 

“We’ve got 60 or 70 [people] working the site, and we could hire more," Stumph said of the dozens of jobs the project has created.

The $48 million contract is a joint project between United Infrastructure Group and Blythe Development. It’s overseen by DOT. Since it’s a state-run project,  it’s not dependent on what Tepper’s organization decides.

“The panthers is the hub of what this infrastructure is about," South Carolina Representative Gary Simrill said. "But the facts are that public infrastructure is just that – it’s a way to move around within the community with more ease because you have more roads, more interchanges within the construct of the community.”

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So far work on the interchange has not impacted traffic. Stumph advised some lanes may be closed at night when the bridge construction starts.

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Contact Indira Eskieva at ieskieva@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.      

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