The N.C. Department of Transportation proposes to widen and add express lanes to Independence Boulevard (U.S. 74) from Conference Drive in Charlotte to I-485 in Matthews. This project length is 6.3 miles.
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.
The purpose of this project is to improve traffic mobility and provide travel time reliability along the Independence Boulevard corridor. Additionally, it will provide system sustainability and maintain and improve connectivity to, from, and between adjacent communities. In combination with improvements proposed on Independence Boulevard to the west in Charlotte, the proposed project will give motorists the choice of paying a fee for a reliable trip time on U.S. 74 between I-277 in Charlotte and I-485 in Matthews.
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
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 corridor currently operates as a four- to six-lane roadway, but is frequently clogged with heavy congestion. The need for the project can be summarized as follows:
- Existing U.S. 74 does not provide adequate mobility, reliable travel time and connectivity for residents, business patrons and commuters in southeastern Charlotte and Matthews.
- Traffic estimates indicate that U.S. 74 will require additional capacity to provide adequate capacity and Level Of Service (LOS) for users by the design year (2040).
- Express lanes are needed to provide a reliable travel time and connect a system of sustainable express lanes planned on U.S. 74 to the northwest, I-485 to the south and the Monroe Bypass/Connector toll road to the southeast.
The adjacent segment of the 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.
Project development studies are underway for STIP No. U-5526, a project that will convert the existing and under-construction bus lanes in the median of Independence Boulevard from I-277 to Wallace Lane to express lanes. Buses will continue to use the express lanes.
Independence Boulevard is the primary east-west route in the region. It has been identified as a strategic transportation corridor. Improving this segment 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.
Independence Boulevard will be widened to provide six general traffic lanes (three in each direction) from Conference Drive to I-485. Because access along U.S. 74 would be altered and all traffic signals removed, interchanges or grade separated crossings will be constructed at major intersecting roads. The project is also expected to include short roadway connections that will link roads that run parallel to Independence Boulevard at several locations within the project corridor. One or two express lanes will be constructed in the median of Independence Boulevard in each direction as part of the project.