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Charlotte Area

State To Expand I-77 To Cornelius As Part Of HOV Changes

http://66.225.205.104/MT20110513.mp3

The N.C. Department of Transportation plans to expand Interstate-77 to three lanes from Huntersville to Cornelius. The expansion is part of a project to turn high-occupancy vehicle lanes into toll lanes that will run up to Cornelius. The high-occupancy lanes on Interstate-77 currently run from the Brookshire Freeway in Charlotte up to around I-485 south of Huntersville. The interstate then narrows to two lanes in both directions at Exit 23. Now the state plans to add a third lane for a five-mile stretch from Huntersville to Exit 28 in Cornelius. They'd be high-occupancy toll lanes, meaning you'd only have to pay to use them if you're driving by yourself. Barry Moose is the Charlotte area's division engineer for the NC Department of Transportation. He said adding the high-occupancy toll lanes would help traffic flow. "For every two people that carpool, you eliminate one of the cars using (I-)77," Moose said. "What we want to do first is continue to encourage people to carpool." "On top of that, if you are a single occupant that needs to get downtown Charlotte at a more reliable rate and at a faster rate," Moose said, "then you can use that lane by paying a toll." Moose said the state is determining how much the toll would cost, which may vary based on how often the lanes are used. He expects the N.C. Board of Transportation to approve the plan. Construction of the new high-occupancy toll lanes would begin in 2014 and cost $65 million.