This timeline shows the extensive steps taken to help bring the region a solution to congestion on I-77:
- In 2007, NCDOT partnered with the South Carolina Department of Transportation, the Charlotte Department of Transportation and other regional agencies for the Fast Lanes study, which analyzed existing and planned highways in 10 counties and identified where express lanes could help reduce congestion. The study identified the I-77 North corridor as a high priority.
- A feasibility study was conducted in 2009 to consider converting existing HOV lanes on I-77 to express lanes and extending the converted lanes to Catawba Avenue (Exit 28) in Cornelius.
- In 2010, the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization (CRTPO) adopted a resolution to develop express lanes projects on I-77, I-485 and U.S. 74.
- In 2011, NCDOT determined it would approach the project as a public-private partnership to leverage private funding to build and open the project sooner than with state funding.
- In July 2011, CRTPO amended its 2035 Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP), which included a project (I-5405) to create one express lane in each direction on I-77.
- In 2012, NCDOT began exploring the use of express lanes and variable tolling to address long-term congestion management in the corridor, while minimizing public contributions and utilizing private capital.
- In June 2012, CRTPO amended its 2035 LRTP and 2012-2018 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) to include converting the existing HOV lanes to express lanes, adding a second express lane between I-85 (Exit 13) and I-485 (Exit 19), and building two new express lanes between I-485 and Catawba Avenue.
- In May 2013, CRTPO again amended its 2035 LRTP and its 2012-2018 TIP to include two projects that would provide express lanes along I-77 from I-277 (Brookshire Freeway) in Mecklenburg County to N.C. 150 (Exit 36) in Iredell County. These projects would be delivered by NCDOT with a public-private partnership at a cost to the state not to exceed $170 million.
- Also in 2013, four potential bidders were shortlisted and participated in more than 70 meetings with NCDOT. These one-on-one meetings helped produce several drafts of the final contract documents. Each of the bidders conducted its own analysis to determine if it could meet contract requirements, while ensuring the long-term contract would generate enough revenue to offset the initial investment.
- Some potential bidders requested additional state and federal funds beyond that number and/or requested that some contract requirements be relaxed. NCDOT determined the public contribution was reasonable and would not be increased.
- Bids were due by March 31, 2014. The proposals were subjected to roughly 200 pass/fail criteria.
- Cintra was announced as the apparent best value proposer on April 11, 2014, with a total project investment of $647 million, of which only $95 million is contributed by NCDOT and federal funds.
- On June 26, 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 – establishing North Carolina's first public-private partnership – to design, build, finance, operate and maintain highway infrastructure.
- NCDOT, together with I-77 Mobility Partners, announced on May 20, 2015, that they achieved financial close on the I-77 Express Lanes project. Financial close meant that both I-77 Mobility Partners and NCDOT completed financing requirements necessary for the project to move forward. That process includes months of review by the Local Government Commission (comprised of state treasurer, state auditor, secretary of state and secretary of revenue) and the Federal Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act Credit Council. NCDOT received approval from both and secured funding at historically low interest rates.
- On Aug. 19, 2015, the CRTPO approved its 10-year Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program (MTIP), which includes the project to add express lanes to the I-77 North corridor.
- On Jan. 20, 2016, the CRTPO reaffirmed its strategy to use express lanes as part of a regional transportation vision.
View the NCDOT documents associated with the project since its inception on Connect NCDOT, NCDOT's business partner resources site.
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.