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Welcome to the North Carolina Department of Transporation High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) website. Here you will find information about the NCDOT HOV program and learn about HOV lanes. We are committed to providing citizens with opportunities to get involved in transportation decision making. Information is available on the various HOV projects around the state.

The central concept for HOV lanes is to move more people rather than more cars. Some HOV lanes carry almost half of the people carried on the entire freeway. Regular "mixed-flow" lanes are never converted to HOV lanes. Rather, HOV lanes are always added to existing facilities. Each vehicle that travels on an HOV lane must carry the minimum number of people posted at the entrance signs. Usually that means at least two people, or in some cases three people. Each child counts as an occupant but pets do not. Violators are subject to a fine. Motorcycles, even those carrying just one person, are allowed to use the HOV lanes. Some HOV lanes are in operation only during certain hours, which are posted. Outside of those hours, they may be used by all vehicles.

Do HOV Lanes Really Work?

When traffic is congested, HOV lanes can carry more people than a general-purpose lane of traffic. HOV lanes are designed to maximize the movement of people. Even when HOV lanes look less congested than general-purpose lanes, they often carry more people.

As HOV lanes are begun in this state, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) will re-evaluate HOV lane operating policies to achieve the most efficient use of the freeway system. These evaluations will include consideration of traffic, safety, and environmental effects and input from other agencies. Significant changes in HOV operating policies also will need the approval from the Federal Highway Administration.

For more information on HOV lanes like rules, issues, benefits, facts and myths click here. For a list of the most common frequently asked questions click here.

Planning Guidelines and Options

Planning guidelines to assess the applicability of HOV concepts for candidate corridors have been developed by various states. Based on collective experience gained from projects, the following guidelines have been compiled and should be appropriate for identifying fatal flaws in a candidate corridor.

The guidelines are divided into primary and secondary categories. Primary guidelines should be met before a candidate freeway or region is considered valid for HOV priority treatment. Secondary guidelines are desirable criteria and are generally more qualitative in nature. They provide some assurance of the relative success an HOV project can provide. Generally, a project is more likely to succeed if multiple secondary guidelines are also met. In most cases, all primary guidelines should be met for the HOV alternative to be conceptually viable. If any primary guidelines are not met, it is important to determine requirements necessary to satisfy that guideline.

Current HOV Lanes and Studies



The Triangle has distinguished itself as one of the "best places" in the country to live and work. Thousands of families and companies have moved here to take advantage of the area's excellent business climate and North Carolina's rich history, diverse culture and natural beauty. While this growth brings many benefits, the increasing number of automobiles on our highways threatens the Triangle's quality of life. North Carolina is struggling with what to do about increasing traffic congestion caused by the tremendous influx of citizens.

The I-40 High Occupancy Vehicle Congestion Management Study (I-40 HOV CMS), a project of the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), will examine a variety of innovative transportation and congestion management techniques. There are many strategies that can improve the trip for I-40 travelers; these strategies become even more effective when they are combined and coordinated. Some of these strategies can ensure a faster and more reliable trip. Others can lessen the inevitable operational deterioration of our state's highway system. Thus, a multidimensional approach to congestion management will be required to achieve noticeable effects. The I-40 HOV CMS will evaluate and identify the most appropriate solution(s) for local needs and problems. Of course, the ultimate effectiveness of any of these alternatives depends on the willingness of travelers to change their habits and alter their expectations.

Goals & Objectives

Phase One - 2000/2001

  • Identify strategies that have the potential to improve the vehicle carrying capacity of I-40 in the Triangle Region.
  • Evaluate options, including high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, toll lanes and express/truck lanes.

Phase Two - 2001/2002

  • Develop a Congestion Management Plan with specific projects and actions for adoption by North Carolina Department of Transportation, Durham Chapel Hill Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization, Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, and Triangle Transit Authority.
  • In-depth evaluation of HOV including forecasts using the financially constrained HOV facilities, demand-driven implementation phasing, traffic analysis, and functional design.

News & Reports & Publications

Contact Information

Joey Hopkins, PE
Deputy Division Engineer, NCDOT Division 5

  • Email: Contact Us
  • Phone: (919) 220-4600
  • Address: 2612 N. Duke Street, Durham, NC 27704


Area Maps
Area Maps

Area Maps (10.9mb)


In 2001, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) began widening I-77 from its interchange with I-85 north to the proposed Charlotte Outer Loop (I-485). This project, known as I-3311A, involves widening the existing four-lane interstate facility to an eight-lane freeway. The project also includes widening and strengthening the outside shoulders to meet current design standards and to accommodate traffic shifts during construction. A later project (I-3311B) will improve the section of I-77 from I-485 to NC-73 (Sam Furr Road) to a six-lane freeway. Based on NCDOT's 2004-2010 Transportation Improvement Program, construction of I-3311B would not begin until sometime after 2010.

In December 2001, NCDOT completed the I-77 Sub-Area Study. This study analyzed the feasibility of including HOV lanes as the inside (median) lanes of project I-3311A, resulting in three general-purpose lanes plus one HOV lane in each direction. Based on the recommendations of this study, the Mecklenburg-Union Metropolitan Planning Organization (MUMPO) in January 2002 added an HOV project along I-77 to the urban area's Immediate Project Needs list.

In July 2002, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) approved an environmental document prepared by NCDOT that proposed designating two of the additional lanes constructed north of the I-85 interchange for HOVs. The HOV lane on southbound I-77 will extend from I-85 through the Brookshire Freeway (I-277) interchange (a total HOV lane length of 10 miles) while the northbound HOV lane will extend north of the I-85 interchange through W. T. Harris Boulevard (a total HOV lane length of about five miles).

In 2003, NCDOT approved HOV lane construction as an addition to the I-77 widening work that was already underway. NCDOT opened the I-77 HOV facility on December 17, 2004.

News & Reports & Publications


Photos from the Flickr page.

Contact Information

Barry Moose, P.E.
Division Engineer, NCDOT Division 10

  • Email: Contact Us
  • Phone: (704) 982-0101
  • Address: 716 West Main Street, Albemarle, NC 28001

Charlotte Region Fastlanes


Transportation planners from across the region have joined together to examine the feasibility of Fast Lanes on major highways in the Charlotte region. The study will determine the technical, financial and institutional feasibility of dedicating lanes on major highways in the Charlotte region for active traffic management. For more information on this study click here.