CHEROKEE CO., (WSPA) – Five more miles of the chute along I-85 is set to be removed for the Interstate 85 Widening Project taking place in both Spartanburg and Cherokee counties.
The South Carolina Department of Transportation said that starting Thursday night, both exit ramps for exit 87 will be temporarily closed until Spring of 2022.
The removal of chute follows a deadly crash that happened in July, killing 3 people and injuring 6 more.
Douglas George is from the area and says it’s time for a change.
“That’s a real good thing and I hope that they go get it done. Hopefully, they get 85 back to normal, it’s been a long time and a long time coming,” said George.
George says he avoids traveling on I-85 because of the chutes and deadly accidents.
Pete Poore, with the SCDOT, says temporarily closing Exit 87 is another step in preparing to remove the second 5 miles of chute. Detours will be in place as part of the ramp work. The northbound exit ramp and southbound entrance ramp will be reopened. He says the first 5 miles were completed in September.
“The chute process was causing some problems, so a decision was made to step back and remove the chutes,” said Poore.
Elisa Phillips is hoping this project will start to make the roads a safer place to travel.
“It’s like kinda scary ’cause you never know what’s gonna happen, because there’s so many cars that come out here every day, and everyone, and every night,” she said.
Phillips says her family keeps off I-85 as much as they can.
“When I ride with my dad, we take back roads instead of going on the highways. Like, when we’re going to Spartanburg, we usually take [Highway] 29 instead of getting on the highway,” she said.
George says this project has been needed for years.
“They’ve been procrastinating about getting it done and it’s just taking forever. There’s no sense in people losing their lives over them not doing something right,” said George.
The SCDOT says the work will be done at night, and even with the ramp closed, it shouldn’t affect traffic on the interstate.
Poore says the second 5 miles of the chute removal, between mile markers 86 and 91, are expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Right now, the speed limit in the southbound outside lane is 45 mph and the speed limit inside the chute is now 35.