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To finish the Charlotte loop, contractors will start by writing big checks
By Sam Boykin CHARLOTTE —The long-awaited finish to the Charlotte Outer Loop Interstate in northeast Mecklenburg County is making North Carolina history, not for its traffic-easing utility, but for the unusual source of some of the construction money. The North Carolina Department of Transportation is using for the first time an innovative method to pay part of the $540 million construction project. Some of the cash for the project, which consists of constructing a multilevel interchange at I-485 and I-85 and completing the loop, will come from a mechanism called design/build/finance. The three-pronged name means teams will design and build the project together – not an unusual pairing – but then comes the oddity in the finance part: The contractors will pay an estimated $50 million of the total cost, $25 million apiece for two of the project’s three phases.