Two-year construction project begins on I-85 - FOX Carolina 21

Two-year construction project begins on I-85

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A road work zone reminder sign. (Aug. 18, 2014/FOX Carolina) A road work zone reminder sign. (Aug. 18, 2014/FOX Carolina)

A two-year construction job is just getting started on Interstate 85, with most of the work to maintain and update the road taking place overnight.

South Carolina's Department of Transportation is overseeing the major project.

All of the northbound lanes will be repaved in part of Spartanburg County, from about mile marker 56 (Highway 14 around the Greenville-Spartanburg county line) to mile marker 68 in the Lyman area.

Many drivers have complained of bumps and potholes along I-85 lately, but according to Patrick McKenzie with DOT, the project has been in the works for the last six years. His department chose the lowest construction bidder in June.

About 12 miles in two years may sound like a lot of time to get the work done, but McKenzie explained that there is a lot of work to be done.

In the work zone, the speed limit drops to 45 miles an hour - and of course, fines for speeding increase.

McKenzie said with 85,000 drivers on the road, cones and lower speed limits are there to keep workers safe. Fifteen years ago, he said, a man was permanently disabled when he was hit by a drunken driver.

This work is standard maintenance that happens every 10 or 15 years. But McKenzie said this time they're taking extra care to make the transitions between work zones and finished road smoother for drivers in the daytime.

"[We] tend to get a lot of complaints about the grade differences. They don't do any harm. People just don't like them. So there's a little bit additional expense and trouble to do this, but it makes a little less distressing to drivers," said McKenzie.

The process is to fix the top layer of the road, which is about three to five inches of pavement.

Crews will start their process by pulling apart the drainage boxes close to the median, and in a few weeks, they'll start ripping up the current highway before they can lay down fresh pavement.

Drivers can expect one or two lanes to be closed from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. The work is being done in six sections of about four miles each.

The project should be complete by October 2016.

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