I-77 toll lanes

Fifteen miles of the I-77 Express Lanes opened Saturday between Huntersville and Mooresville.
David Boraks / WFAE

Toll lanes have been under construction for nearly four years on I-77 from Charlotte to the Lake Norman area. Over the weekend, the northern 15 miles of the project opened to traffic. Monday was the first weekday rush hour with the lanes. Some drivers took advantage of the faster commute, while toll lane opponents continued to fume about the whole idea. WFAE's "All Things Considered" host Gwendolyn Glenn talked about all this with WFAE reporter David Boraks, who has been covering the project since the planning stages.  

Barriers separate free lanes from toll lanes (left) on I-77 north of Charlotte. The northern section of the toll lanes is scheduled to open to traffic on Saturday, June 1.
David Boraks / WFAE

After nearly four years of construction, and months of delays, the northern section of the I-77 toll lanes near Charlotte is scheduled to open Saturday morning, June 1. Beginning at 10 a.m., the I-77 Express Lanes will be open in both directions, from Exit 36 in Mooresville to Hambright Road in Huntersville.

NCDOT officials told local business and government leaders in Cornelius this Wednesday they are still studying potential changes to the $670 million I-77 toll lanes project from Charlotte to Mooresville. Some of those leaders said afterward they aren't hearing anything new.

The meeting of the DOT's I-77 Local Advisory Committee was supposed to be an update on progress toward changes in the unpopular project. But DOT officials say they have yet to begin negotiating anything with toll-lane builder and operator I-77 Mobility Partners.

An aerial view of the I-77 Express Lanes construction near uptown Charlotte in October shows a new westbound ramp under construction from I-277 westbound to I-77 southbound.
I-77 Mobility Partners

Updated Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019
A newly constructed ramp from I-277 westbound to I-77 southbound near uptown opened Monday afternoon. The old ramp closed last September and since then drivers have had to detour by going north on the Brookshire Freeway.  

Construction on I-77 toll lanes near I-85 in April.
I-77 Mobility Partners

The contractor behind the I-77 toll lanes has pushed back the date for a portion of the project's opening.

I-77 Mobility Partners said the northern section of the toll lanes, near Hambright Road to Exit 36 in Mooresville, had been set to open by the end of 2018, but delays from weather and a more expansive project forced the company to adjust its open date. That section of toll lanes is now expected to open in the first quarter of 2019.

Steve Harrison / WFAE

In the race for state Senate District 41, Republican incumbent Jeff Tarte and Democrat Natasha Marcus are trying to out-do each other’s opposition to the Interstate 77 toll lanes.

I-77 Mobility Partners leaders listened to speakers at a public hearing Thursday. From left: public affairs director Jean Leier, CEO Javier Tamargo and chief infrastructure officer David Hannon.
David Boraks / WFAE

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.

Tolls on the I-77 Express Lanes north of Charlotte will be fixed for the first six months, then fluctuate with traffic volumes after that. An NCDOT video shows what rate signboards will look like.
NCDOT

The contractor building toll lanes on Interstate 77 north of Charlotte will unveil initial toll rates and hear public comments at a meeting Thursday night in Huntersville.

Tolls on the I-77 Express Lanes north of Charlotte will be fixed for the first six months, then fluctuate with traffic volumes after that. An NCDOT video shows what rate signboards will look like.
NCDOT

One of the big questions about the North Carolina Department of Transportation's I-77 toll lane project north of Charlotte is how much will the tolls cost? Expect an answer in two weeks at a public hearing on the rates.

I-77 MOBILITY PARTNERS

Updated Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018
State Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon told Lake Norman area leaders Wednesday that the Department of Transportation cannot buy out its contract with a private company building toll lanes on I-77 north of Charlotte. 

This former high-occupancy lane over I-85 on I-77 southbound will be widened to carry two toll lanes.
David Boraks / WFAE

State Transportation Secretary James Trogdon will be in Cornelius Wednesday afternoon to brief the NCDOT's Local Advisory Group on options for modifying the controversial I-77 toll lanes project. The visit comes three months after most local officials in the group backed their own proposal: Buy out the $650 million contract with the private company building the lanes and convert one toll lane to a free lane.

David Hannon of I-77 Mobility Partners points to ramp construction at the I-277 and I-77 interchange in Charlotte during a tour this week.
David Boraks / WFAE

Construction crews still have lots of work to do before toll lanes can open on I-77 from Charlotte to Mooresville. The question on commuters' minds is: Will they be ready as promised by the end of the year? 

Toll lanes would be built in the median of I-485 from I-77 to U.S. 74.
NCDOT

The North Carolina Department of Transportation will hold public meetings this week on several projects to improve travel times on roads in south Charlotte – including toll lanes on I-485.

Workers build concrete barriers along I-77 north of Charlotte, as part of the I-77 Express Lanes project.
I-77 Mobility Partners

State legislation to fund a possible buyout or changes to the North Carolina Department of Transportation's I-77 toll lane project near Charlotte has died. That's according to state Sen. Jeff Tarte (R-Cornelius), who wrote a key amendment to provide the funding.  

Construction on the I-77 toll lanes and related projects like this bridge is continuing.
I-77 Mobility Partners

A state auditor's report out Tuesday has found nothing improper about the North Carolina Department of Transportation's nearly $650 million contract with a private company to build toll lanes on I-77, or in the way the contract was awarded. 

Workers installed beams in late April for a new bridge over I-77 near LaSalle Street near uptown Charlotte.
I-77 Mobility Partners

Two state transportation policy changes — affecting light rail projects and the I-77 toll lanes — could become law as part of the state budget that passed the legislature Friday.  

The NCDOT's I-77 Local Advisory Committee met Thursday in Cornelius.
David Boraks / WFAE

The private contractor building toll lanes on I-77 north of Charlotte says revising or ending its contract will cost a lot more than what's been discussed at an NCDOT advisory committee in recent months.  That warning came in letters from I-77 Mobility Partners to the DOT.  

NCDOT secretary Jim Trogdon listens to local officials' recommendations for revising the I-77 toll lane project Thursday at the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce in Cornelius.
David Boraks / WFAE

Opponents of North Carolina Department of Transportation's $650 million toll-lane project on I-77 from Charlotte to Lake Norman are lining up behind a possible compromise. It wouldn't completely eliminate tolls, but they hope it would ease the project's impact on the area. 

Workers installed beams in late April for a new bridge over I-77 near LaSalle Street near uptown Charlotte.
I-77 Mobility Partners

An advisory group that's helping the North Carolina Department of Transportation review the $650 million toll-lane project on I-77 will meet again Thursday afternoon to offer final recommendations.  Some members want to cancel the deal, but it could come at a steep price. 

I-77 exit 28 in Cornelius
David Boraks / WFAE

Updated Friday, Aug. 11, 2017
A draft report is out from a consultant reviewing the contract for the I-77 toll lane project north of Charlotte. Mercator Advisors says it would have cost NCDOT at least $149 million to cancel the contract with the private company hired to build and manage the lanes - using figures as of Dec. 31, 2016.

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