A rush hour commute on all 26 miles of the toll lanes on I-77 from Charlotte to Mooresville will cost up to $6.55 one way when the lanes open later this year - and more later on. The project's contractor announced the rates at a public hearing in Huntersville last night, and hinted that some sections of the project may not open on schedule.
Several dozen people came to the hearing, and just nine spoke. Nearly all were there to oppose the project and speak out against the contractor.
William Rakatansky of Cornelius said the tolls were about letting a private company fleece the public. He aimed his comments at Cintra, the Spanish-based parent company of contractor I-77 Mobility Partners.
“How dare you come to our home and foist hour scheme upon us? All we want is for Cintra to leave us alone and leave our state, to never deceive us again. You are not welcome here. Please leave,” Rakatansky said, drawing applause.
Rick Monroe of Cornelius offered similar sentiments. “The plan you have laid out here tonight is nothing more than government sanctioned and government sponsored theft. You are stealing from your fellow citizens,” he said.
I-77 Mobility Partners says the rates will be simple for the first six months, to let drivers get used to the tolls.
Prices will be fixed according to the time of day - a maximum of $6.55 one-way, or $13.10 round trip, if you drive all the way between Mooresville and Charlotte at rush hour. And by the way, those rush hours are defined widely - 6:30 to 9 am and 3 to 7 p.m.
Off-peak tolls will be less, depending on the time of day.
Of course if you don't go the full 26-mile length of the lanes, you won't pay as much. For example a round trip peak hour commute from Huntersville to Charlotte would cost about half as much.
LATER, VARIABLE TOLL RATES
After six months, tolls will change as often as every five minutes, depending on how much traffic is in the lanes. The contractor doesn't expect the express lanes to fill up, but if they do, it will cost as much as $9.40 one way at rush hour, or nearly $19 round trip, for the full 26 miles (and less for a shorter drive).
Those rates are for drivers who get a free Quickpass transponder from the North Carolina Turnpike Authority, which will collect the tolls. If you don't have one, you'll get a bill in the mail, and pay 35 percent more.
CEO SAYS JUST TRY IT
I-77 Mobility CEO Javier Tamargo said afterward the hearing showed people have strong opinions about the project.
“I think that people will solve all their questions and all their concerns just by seeing how the toll lanes operate. I think that's going to be the critical point here,” Tamargo said.
The company has said the project will open by the end of this year. But Tamargo said some segments may not be complete. If that happens, he said toll rates would be discounted.
I-77 Mobility Partners is financing most of the project's cost, now totaling $670 million. That's $20 million more originally estimated. Tamargo said that's because the company is investing more of its own money in what he called "improvements," including new direct connections from the toll lanes to some local roads in north Mecklenburg.
RELATED DOCUMENTS AND LINKS
See the presentation from Thursday’s meeting, including information about how the lanes will work and toll rate charts. (PDF)
More on the project website, I77Express.com
Toll collection and information about obtaining transponders at myncquickpass.com