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Charlotte Area

New outerbelt leg may open for Tuesday evening rush hour

A 5.5-mile section of the outerbelt could be open to traffic by Tuesday afternoon. The section of I-485 stretches from Brookshire Blvd. to Old Statesville Road in northwest Mecklenburg County. Department of Transportation spokeswoman Jen Thompson says the state will open the road if it passes a morning inspection. "What we're going to do is check for any maintenance problems - basically it's like a home inspection for highways," she says. "What we're going to do after that is provide a final punchlist for the contractor to complete. And provided that there will not be any lane closures required for those punchlist items, we could open the road up to traffic prior to the afternoon drive." Construction on this section of the outerbelt started in 2004, and cost about $94 million. Only one leg remains to complete the I-485 loop around Charlotte. That section will connect Old Statesville Road to Interstate 85, but construction isn't expected to begin until at least 2015.