Wet weather and utility issues have held up the expansion of N.C. Highway 16 to four lanes over the past three years. The project is now expected to be done two years later than planned, N.C. Department of Transportation officials say.
The eight-mile expansion of the highway from two lanes to a four-lane divided highway between Tower Road and Caldwell Road south of Newton is expected to be done in December 2022, according to the NCDOT project progress report. The original completion date was December 2020.
Issues with utility lines and poor weather have delayed the $41.5 million project, NCDOT Engineer Eric Conner said.
“Of course we had weather that has not been paying a favor to us,” he said. “There’s been some issues with utilities, trying to get stuff moved out of the way. And general construction issues you run into on basically every construction contract. Those things all together have added up to delays.”
Work on the project began in June 2017, according to the NCDOT project progress report. It’s about 45 percent complete, according to the construction progress report.
New lanes still have to be built and paved. Once complete, traffic will switch to those lanes while the original road is built upon, likely early next year, Conner said.
The project aims to better connect Charlotte and Newton. The highway is a major connector between Charlotte, Newton and Interstate 40, Conner said.
“You’ve got a lot of traffic that flows that direction,” he said. “It’s going to allow a lot better flow of traffic and ... It’ll allow for a better traffic flow and a lot easier traffic for people to go through.”
Once the project is eventually complete, Conner expects traffic to increase on the road.
The speed limit is currently 55 but it could increase once the widening is done, he said.
Conner said he knows the construction can be frustrating.
“Bear with us, we’re trying to get things done,” he said. “It’s typical with any construction.”