With no fanfare and 16 days overdue, the final stretch of I-77 Express toll lanes north of Charlotte was scheduled to open at 8 p.m. Saturday.
I-77 Mobility Partners announced that the southern section of the toll road that stretches from I-277 in uptown to I-485 had been completed, and drivers can now use all 26 miles of the project.
The northern 15 miles of the toll roads opened June 1, but work continued on the nine miles between Huntersville and Charlotte despite a Nov. 1 deadline for the project to be finished.
I-77 Mobility Partners was fined $10,000 a day for each incomplete segment beyond the deadline. Three sections were unfinished by Nov. 1.
With the full project now open, the current 25% discount on tolls will expire, the contractor said. Dynamic pricing will begin Dec. 1. During "dynamic mode," toll rates may change as often as every five minutes to accommodate changes in demand for I-77 Express. Toll rates will be based on segment length, time of day and demand. More about toll rates can be found here.
I-77 Mobility Partners said the first portion of toll roads already has helped traffic. In October, average speeds during the morning rush hour increased by 15% compared to the same month in 2018; speeds during the afternoon rush hour increased by 17%, according to the contractor.
“Since I-77 Express opened on June 1 in the Lake Norman area, more than 2.7 million trips have been taken on the express lanes by over 515,000 different vehicles,” said Javier Tamargo, CEO of I-77 Mobility Partners, said in a statement. “We are proud to make this private investment to develop the first managed lanes in North Carolina."