What are Express Lanes?
Express Lanes are designated lanes that allow you, the driver, to avoid traffic congestion by offering you a choice—pay a toll and ride the express lanes for more reliable travel times, or continue using general purpose lanes for free. Entrance and exit points are constructed along the express lanes to save you time. You have the option to use the express lanes for short segments of a trip, for the whole length or not at all.
Project Overview and Purpose
The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) proposes improvements to add one express lane in each direction along I-485 from I-77 to U.S. 74 (Independence Boulevard) in Mecklenburg County. The project length is 17 miles.
The purpose of this project is to provide travel time reliability along I-485. This segment of I-485 carries between 65,000 and 112,000 vehicles per day and experiences congestion on a regular basis. The proposed express lanes will, in combination with improvements proposed on Independence Boulevard, give motorists the option of paying a fee for a reliable trip time on I-485 between I-77 and U.S. 74.
News and Updates
The project is in the preliminary stages of development. Over the past several months, NCDOT has been working closely with local government agencies to discuss local transportation issues and define the scope of the project. This coordination will continue as we develop project design plans.
Environmental and Preliminary Design Studies
Currently, NCDOT is conducting detailed field studies of the project area to identify potential impacts to human and natural environments. NCDOT is also preparing preliminary design plans for the proposed improvements.
NCDOT held two public meetings in April 2015. The same information was presented at each meeting.
Public Meetings 2017
For more information about these meetings, see the Contact Information section.
- Currently, no recent news releases.
Access to the Proposed Express Lanes
Possible access points are currently being evaluated.
Express Lane Connections
The express lanes proposed on I-485 as part of this project will connect with other projects described in more detail below in the “Coordination with Other Projects” section. This linkage will result in a seamless system of express and toll lanes in this area of Charlotte.
Coordination with Other Projects
On the east side of the project, a 1.9 miles-long segment of Independence Boulevard is being improved under STIP Project U-209B. That project includes upgrading Independence Boulevard from Albemarle Road to Idlewild Road to an eight-lane expressway with interchanges at Sharon Amity Road and Idlewild Road and a grade-separated crossing at Conference Drive. STIP Project U-209B also includes the construction of one bus lane in each direction in the median of Independence Boulevard. The project is anticipated to be completed in the late fall of 2016.
Preliminary design and environmental studies are underway for a project that will improve a 5.8-mile segment of Independence Boulevard from I-277 to Wallace Lane (STIP Project U-5526). That project calls for converting the existing and under-construction bus lanes on Independence Boulevard to express lanes.
Preliminary studies and coordination are underway for a project that will improve the 6.3-mile segment of Independence Boulevard to the east (from Conference Drive to I-485), STIP Project U-2509. That project calls for upgrading Independence Boulevard to provide additional capacity and safety. Project U-2509 is anticipated to include upgrading Independence Boulevard to an expressway with interchanges or grade-separated crossings at major intersecting roads. It will also include the construction of express lanes along Independence Boulevard.
The proposed Monroe Connector/Bypass project (STIP Project R-3329/R-2559) consists of constructing a toll road on new location from U.S. 74 at I-485 in eastern Mecklenburg County to U.S. 74 near the Town of Marshville in Union County. This is a 19.2 miles long project.
Charlotte Regional Proposed Express Lanes Network
Project History and Related Studies
In 2007, NCDOT partnered with the South Carolina DOT, City of Charlotte and other regional agencies in the Fast Lanes study. This report analyzed existing and planned highways in 10 counties to identify where express lanes could help reduce congestion. The initial findings identified I-485 in south Charlotte for additional studies.
In April 2014, the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization (CRTPO) adopted the 2040 Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP). This 2040 MTP includes project I-5507, which proposes one express lane in each direction between I-77 and U.S. 74, to be constructed by 2025. In December 2014, the NCDOT released the Draft 2016-2025 State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), which proposes to begin this project construction in 2017.
Project Development Engineer
- Phone: (919) 707-6042
- Address:1548 Mail Service Center, Raleigh NC, 27699-1548
Toll-Free Hotline: 1-800-254-0498
Deputy Division Engineer
- Phone: (704) 983-4400
- Address: 716 West Main Street, Albemarle NC, 28001
Resources for Local Property Owners
Although the N.C. Department of Transportation works to minimize the number of homes and businesses displaced by a road project, it is inevitable, in many cases, that a certain amount of private property is needed. The following information explains right of way acquisition and answers questions about the process.