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 west of Idlewild Road for two-way express lanes. The project length is approximately 5 miles.
The purpose of this project is to provide an option for travel time reliability in the Independence Boulevard corridor. In combination with improvements proposed on Independence Boulevard to the east into 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 toll lanes built within an existing highway corridor. They provide additional capacity to accommodate more traffic and offer drivers the option of more reliable travel times. Unlike traditional toll roads, drivers can choose to pay the toll and use the express lanes or continue to drive in the existing non-tolled general purpose 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 16th 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.
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 existing bus lanes on Independence Boulevard between I-277 and Idlewild Road will be converted to two-way express lanes (one in each direction). Access points will be provided along the express lanes for vehicles to enter and exit. The locations of these access points will be evaluated as the project progresses, as well as a potential direct connector between the express lanes and Albemarle Road.