Project Overview and Purpose
The I-77 Express Lanes project will help provide more reliable travel times on 26 miles of I-77 from the Brookshire Freeway (Exit 11) in Mecklenburg County to N.C. 150 (Exit 36) in Iredell County.
The Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization requested that the N.C. Department of Transportation develop express lane projects on I-77, as well as on I-485 and U.S. 74. NCDOT determined it would approach the I-77 project as a public-private partnership to leverage private funding to build and open the project sooner than with state funding.
NCDOT Wants to Hear From You
Have comments or concerns about the contract with I-77 Mobility Partners?
Let Us Know
Some residents and local leaders have voiced concerns about the contract with I-77 Mobility Partners.
NCDOT has heard those concerns and will utilize the services of an independent consultant to conduct a formal, in-depth review of all aspects of the contract and project.
The Department will select the most qualified firm with no previous involvement in the project.
As part of this review, NCDOT wants the public to provide feedback on the issues of greatest concern to them regarding the contract. This input will be used in the contract review.
Comments may be submitted through this form.
The review is expected to be complete by Summer 2017. Once it is complete, the independent consultant will prepare a draft report that will provide a list of options for the state and an assessment of each of those options. A final report, with recommendations, is expected in late summer or early fall.
What Will the Project Do?
As currently planned, there will be two express lanes added in each direction between uptown Charlotte and Exit 28 in Cornelius. Between Cornelius and Exit 36 in Mooresville, there will be one express lane added in each direction.
The existing high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes (one in each direction), commonly known as carpool lanes, on the southern part of the project are being converted to express lanes.
The existing lanes will always remain free of charge. The project is not adding or taking away any general-purpose lanes, but the lanes will be resurfaced to preserve the pavement and provide motorists with a smoother ride.
Express Lanes: The Power to Choose
Express lanes offer drivers a choice: Pay a toll and use the express lanes to avoid travel delays or continue driving on the general-purpose lanes for free. Motorcyclists, buses and carpoolers with three or more occupants (including the driver) may use the express lanes for free.
The power to choose is entirely in the hands of motorists. They can individually determine how valuable their time is and decide if the time they will save is worth the cost of taking the express lanes.
Drivers who choose not to use the express lanes will also see a benefit. As other motorists opt to take the express lanes, congestion in the general-purpose lanes will lessen, making the commute more efficient for those relying on the free lanes, as well.
North Carolina isn't the only state investing in express lanes as a way to alleviate traffic backups. California, Colorado, Texas, Virginia, Florida and Georgia are among those successfully using them in urban areas to make travel more efficient for all drivers.
How Traffic Will Flow
Along the 26-mile I-77 corridor, drivers will be able to enter and exit express lanes in several locations. This map provides a detailed look at those locations.
These points will give drivers multiple opportunities to decide if they want to take advantage of the time-saving benefits the express lanes offer. They will also help ensure motorists can easily reach their destinations from the express lanes. Each segment in the corridor will be tolled separately, and drivers will see signs prior to the entry point of each segment that indicate the amount of the toll.
Varying the price of the express lanes based on the amount of congestion ensures travel speeds of at least 45 mph during peak travel times while vehicles on the general-purpose lanes might be moving at a slower pace.
Tolling will be electronic; there will be no toll booths stopping traffic. The North Carolina Turnpike Authority, not I-77 Mobility Partners, will handle billing drivers for tolls. A driver who uses the express lanes will pay the toll through one of three methods:
- A transponder account with the North Carolina Turnpike Authority
- An existing transponder account with EZ-Pass, PeachPass or SunPass
- A bill by mail (plus administrative costs) based upon a photograph of the license plate
CATS buses, identifiable carpools of three or more people, emergency vehicles and motorcyclists will not be charged tolls to travel in the express lanes.
I-77 Mobility Partners and NCDOT's Public-Private Partnership
In June 2014, NCDOT and I-77 Mobility Partners, a limited liability corporation created by Cintra specifically for the I-77 Express Lanes
project, signed a Comprehensive Agreement for the delivery of the I-77 Express Lanes project. This agreement established North Carolina's first
public-private partnership to design, build, finance, operate and maintain highway infrastructure.
News and Updates
Louis Mitchell, P.E.
Division 10 Engineer
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716 W. Main St.
Albemarle, NC 28001
Resources for Local Property Owners
In many cases, it is inevitable that a certain amount of private property must be acquired. The displacement of homes and businesses is minimized to the extent practicable. The following brochures will answer questions about this process.