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Public Responds To HOT Lanes

NCDOT officials and members of the transportation consulting firm RK & K answered questions about the project. Photo: Tanner

The North Carolina Department of Transportation hosted a public workshop in Cornelius Wednesday to field questions about its proposed plan to reduce congestion on I-77 with toll lanes. The lanes will be called High Occupancy Toll or HOT lanes. And the NCDOT proposes they run on I-77 from Mooresville all the way to Uptown. 

In some stretches, the existing HOV lanes will just be converted into the HOT lanes. In others, the HOT lanes will need to be constructed. And here's how they'll work: If you have three or more people in your vehicle, then you can use the lane free of charge. Less than three and you've got to pay. Now, as far as what you pay and how you pay, that's all still to be determined. At this stage in the process, the NCDOT has yet to contract a company to handle the toll technology and transactions.

What it is saying is that the fee will likely fluctuate, depending on the amount of congestion on the interstate. And there won't be traditional toll plazas where you stop and toss coins. Instead, you'll register your vehicle, and when you drive through a toll booth, scanners will either read your license plate or a transponder mounted in your car, and then charge you accordingly.

At the public workshop in Cornelius Town Hall Wednesday, NCDOT was specifically soliciting feedback on the project phase which stretches between Exit 36 in Mooresville and Exit 28, the Huntersville/Cornelius exit. Renderings lined the walls and NCDOT officials answered area residents' questions one-on-one.

Bob Deaton of Cornelius is a bit skeptical and says he wants to see more research. "I ride that road an awful lot, and I don't see many vehicles with three people in it," he says. "There's not a lot of people with two. So, we're going to have to see. I think there's still some work to do."

The NCDOT is moving forward with its first HOT lane phase, the stretch of the interstate running from Exit 28 down to I-277. It hopes to award a contract for that section by the end of this year, with work on the lanes set to begin in the fall of 2013.