The N.C. Department of Transportation proposes to convert the bus lanes in the median of Independence Boulevard (U.S. 74) in Charlotte from I-277 to Wallace Lane to express lanes. The project length is 5.8 miles.
This conversion will include the bus lanes that currently exist between I-277 and Albemarle Road (N.C. 27), as well as the bus lanes that are currently being constructed from Albemarle Road to Wallace Lane.
The purpose of this project is to provide travel time reliability in the Independence Boulevard corridor. In combination with improvements proposed on Independence Boulevard to the east in Matthews, the proposed project will give motorists the choice of paying a fee for a reliable trip time on U.S. 74 between I-485 in Matthews and I-277 in Charlotte.
What are Express Lanes?
Express lanes are the key to unlocking congestion and improving traffic flow on critical transportation corridors. They offer drivers a choice – pay a toll and ride on the express lanes for more reliable travel times, or continue driving on the general purpose lanes for free.
The power is entirely in the hands of you, the motorist. You can each determine how valuable your time is and decide if the convenience and more reliable travel time is worth the cost of taking the express lanes.
Need for Project
The Charlotte region is growing. Its urban population has increased 135 percent in the past 25 years alone, making it the 43rd largest urban area in the nation. More people moving to the area mean more cars on the roadway. Independence Boulevard (U.S. 74) is a multilane, median-divided arterial route that serves as the main gateway to Uptown Charlotte from southeast Mecklenburg County and northwest Union County.
The segment of Independence Boulevard corridor from I-277 in Uptown Charlotte to Albemarle Road (N.C. 27) has previously been upgraded to a facility with interchanges at major intersecting roads.
The remaining segment, from Albemarle Road to Wallace Lane (2.0 miles), is currently being widened to an eight-lane expressway with interchanges under STIP No. U-209 B. All traffic signals on Independence Boulevard are being removed as part of that project, and one bus lane is being constructed in each direction in the median. The project is anticipated to be completed in the late fall of 2016.
Project development studies are underway for improvements to Independence Boulevard from Conference Drive in Charlotte to I-485 in Matthews under STIP Project U-2509.
Independence Boulevard is the primary east-west route in the region. It has been identified as a strategic highway corridor. Improving this segments of U.S. 74 is part of an ongoing effort to enhance transportation, economic development and environmental stewardship in our state.
North Carolina is growing but transportation revenues are not keeping pace. This presents a special set of challenges for our state. NCDOT is seeking innovative ways to improve our existing roadway network, grow the state’s economy and enhance the quality of life. The use of express lanes is one tool for achieving those goals.
The median of Independence Boulevard from I-277 to Albemarle Road (3.8 miles) contains two bus lanes that are currently used only by CATS express buses. Those lanes are separated from the general lanes by concrete barriers.
NCDOT is currently widening and improving Independence Boulevard from Albemarle Road to Wallace Lane under STIP No. U-209 B. That segment of Independence Boulevard, upon the completion of U-209 B, will have one bus lane in each direction in the median separated by a single concrete barrier. The bus lanes will be separated from the general traffic lanes by dual paint stripes.
The existing and under-construction bus lanes on Independence Boulevard between I-277 and Wallace Lane will be converted to express lanes. The project includes pavement resurfacing and restriping, and the installation of signs, pavement markers and electronic toll and traffic management equipment. Minor modifications within the existing median will be required in the vicinity of Hawthorne Lane and Albemarle Road. Little or no additional right of way is anticipated for these improvements. The need for improvements to Independence Boulevard east of Wallace Lane (near Village Lake Drive) is also being considered to ensure proper operation of the eastbound (outbound) express lane in the afternoon hours.
The project will consist of two distinct segments:
, from I-277 to Albemarle Road, will consist of one reversible express lane. The express lane will operate in the inbound/westbound direction (toward Uptown Charlotte) in the morning and in the outbound/eastbound direction (towards Matthews) in the afternoon. The express lane will be separated from the general traffic lanes by concrete barriers on either side.
, from Albemarle Road to Wallace Lane, will consist of one express lane in each direction. The express lanes will be separated from each other by concrete barriers and from the general traffic lanes by a four-foot buffer.