CHEROKEE CO., SC (WSPA) – Crews worked to complete the removal of the last five miles of the Interstate 85 chute Monday night in Cherokee County. They will continue to work in order to change the traffic pattern in this area.
According to the South Carolina Department of Transportation, the removal comes more than two weeks ahead of schedule.
The segment being removed is in the southbound lanes between mile markers 86 and 91.
The SCDOT announced in July that the agency would work to remove the 10 miles of construction chute which had come under criticism following a deadly wreck which killed three people.
After the crash, Cherokee County Coroner Dennis Fowler called the chutes a “death trap.”
“I think it’s a death trap, it’s an absolute death trap of a concrete maze,” said Fowler.
The construction chute is also the focus of a wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of the husband of a woman killed in the July crash.
The first five miles of chute, between mile markers 81 and 86, were removed in mid-September.
“We appreciate the hard work of the contractor to concentrate his activities on this segment of interstate in order to complete the widening work necessary to make this switch,” said Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall in a statement.
“We still have much work to do on this project and will continue our efforts regarding safety in the work zone,” Hall continued. “We also ask for the help of the motoring public. Slow down, pay attention and obey the signs in the work zone.”
Pete Poore, Director of Communications for SCDOT, says Monday night, they’ll reset the traffic patterns, but the construction isn’t complete.
“The 10-mile removal of the chute system that we were using, but what’s important to know is the project goes on, the I-85 widening project in Gaffney continues,” said Poore.
Poore says they’re still working on making six-lane interstate, all in an effort to keep traffic flowing smoothly and safely.
“We hope to make it more efficient for commerce in the state, as well as making the roads safer for everybody,” said Poore.
He says they still caution drivers to be careful as work continues on the interstate. Poore says there will be no major detours or closing, just a couple half-mile single lane closures.
In addition to the chute removal work, the SCDOT also lowered speed limits in the construction zone for safety.
The project to widen Interstate 85 in Spartanburg and Cherokee Counties began in 2017 and is expected to be completed in late 2023.