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Cornelius News

​As complaints pile up, I-77 sub​-​contractor caused Friday’s ​gridlock

May 16. By Dave Vieser. ​Less than a month after loose steel reflectors became a critical safety issue in the I-77 construction zone, it turns out a dump truck being operated by a ​Cintra ​sub​-​contractor caused massive gridlock in Cornelius and​ ​on the interstate last Friday May 12.

​The accident happened around 12:30​ ​am​ in the dark—when the most intense construction is under way—when a truck hit an overhead sign. Traffic was nightmarish for another 12 hours on major arteries like West Catawba, Sam Furr and Hwy 21.

According to the North Carolina Highway Patro​l, t​wo of three northbound lanes remained closed on I-77 for over 12 hours while crews removed a portion of the sign structure. The damage was a safety hazard to drivers and was removed before re-opening the lanes to traffic.

DOT spokeswoman Jennifer Thompson ​said one of the construction vehicles working in the area caused the damage​,​ delaying tens of thousands of motorists in Cornelius and on the interstate from I-485 north to Langtree Road/Exit 31.

The accident location​ occurred​ near milepost 32, in the area where crews are working overnight on the toll lane project.

This has not been a good week for Cintra. On Tuesday May 16, overnight toll lane construction work on I-77 in Charlotte ran until 7:45 am because of equipment issues, significantly delaying rush hour traffic. Sugar Creek construction will be assessed a penalty by the DOT because of the Tuesday delays, according to Thompson.

​The subcontractor’s insurance company ​is expected to pay for the sign damage.​ “​We are conducting a full investigation to determine if there are additional liabilities​,” Thompson said.