Last month, President Obama submitted a budget proposal calling for greater investment in projects that strengthen our infrastructure and create jobs. And one state that is achieving both of those goals is North Carolina, where a trio of high-priority projects is underway to improve safety and reduce traffic congestion along the Charlotte area's major east-west commercial route.
The projects will complete the Charlotte Outer Loop and feature the state's first turbine-style interchange and a pair of double-crossover--or diverging diamond--interchanges designed to reduce risky left turns among drivers and cut traffic jams by as much as 60 percent. In addition, according to estimates by the North Carolina DOT, using these innovative interchange designs will save taxpayers more than $50 million.
These projects will also save area drivers something even more valuable: time. One of the three projects, widening seven miles of I-85, will reduce congestion at one of North Carolina's worst bottlenecks. Used by 118,000 drivers each day, this section of I-85 is prone to traffic delays that, during rush hour, can last more than 60 minutes. That's no good for commuters and no good for the truck drivers hauling loads to markets.
We're not just saving time for drivers on the road; we're also speeding up how quickly we can get men and women to work on project jobsites. Two of the Charlotte Outer Loop projects--the I-85/I-485 Interchange and the I-485 Loop completion--utilized design-build finance, an innovation that allowed construction to begin four years earlier than originally estimated. That means the folks using the roadways will see the benefits of these improvements much sooner.
Design-build is one tool in Administrator Mendez's Every Day Counts initiative, an approach that seeks to speed up project completion in every stage of the process from planning through construction. It's just one way the Obama Administration is trying to streamline and simplify delivery of key projects.
President Obama called on us to rebuild America by putting people to work improving the nation's roads and bridges, and that is exactly what we're doing.
And we can do even more if Congress passes a good, long-term transportation plan that states like North Carolina can count on to support key infrastructure investments like the three terrific projects near Charlotte.
President Obama, this DOT, and states like North Carolina want to build an America that lasts. We've got work to do; let's get busy.