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Project History

​​​​​​​​This timeline shows the extensive steps taken to help bring the region a solution to congestion on I-77.

2007The N.C. Department of Transportation partnered with the S.C. 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.
2009A feasibility study was conducted to consider converting existing high-occupancy vehicle lanes on I-77 to express lanes and extending the converted lanes to Catawba Avenue (Exit 28) in Cornelius.
2010The Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization adopted a resolution to develop express lanes projects on I-77, I-485 and U.S. 74.
2011NCDOT 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, the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization amended its 2035 Long-Range Transportation Plan, which included a project (I-5405) to create one express lane in each direction on I-77.

2012NCDOT 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, the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization amended its 2035 Long-Range Transportation Plan and 2012-2018 Transportation Improvement Program. It included converting the existing high-occupancy vehicle 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.

2013In May, the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization again amended its 2035 Long-Range Transportation Plan and its 2012-2018 Transportation Improvement Program. It included 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 were delivered by NCDOT with a public-private partnership at a cost to the state not to exceed $170 million.

Four potential bidders were also shortlisted and participated in more than 70 meetings with NCDOT. These one-on-one meetings produced 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 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, with a total project investment of $647 million, of which only $95 million is contributed by NCDOT and federal funds.

On June 26, 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.

2015NCDOT, together with I-77 Mobility Partners, announced on May 20 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 included 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, the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization approved its 10-year Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program, which included the project to add express lanes to the I-77 North corridor.

2016On Jan. 20, the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization reaffirmed its strategy to use express lanes as part of a regional transportation vision.

12/17/2021 12:17 PM