First Stretch of Controversial I-77 Toll Lane Project Opens

CORNELIUS, N.C. – After years of construction and controversy, the first stretch of the I-77 toll lane project is open.

Drivers can take the toll lanes from Hambright Road in Huntersville to Exit 36 in Mooresville.

The opening came with no ribbon cutting and little fanfare.

“I think it’s crazy. I don’t think we should have ever got them. Because this ain’t New York. So what we need tolls for?” asks Davidson resident Courtney Knox.

She and others still aren’t happy about the toll lanes.

“I don’t wanna pay a toll every day or none of that,” Knox says.

The opening comes despite years of protests and a lawsuit.

Members of the group Widen I-77 have spoken out for years saying the state signed a bad contract with Spanish-firm Cintra.

It prevents additional free lanes from being built for 50 years.

“Financial burden to people. I think it’s going to be a big mess,” says Huntersville resident Joe Sammut.

Once the entire 26-mile route opens up it will cost up to $6.55 to go from Uptown Charlotte to Mooresville, depending on the time of day.

It will cost as much as $9.40 once dynamic pricing takes effect in six months.

That’s when prices will change automatically as often as every five minutes, depending on the time of day and volume.

There are no toll booths. Drivers will get a bill in the mail after overhead readers scan their license plates.

You can also order a NC Quick Pass, which allows you to pay online.

The goal is to reduce congestion especially during rush hour, but not everyone’s convinced.

“I don’t like it at all. I don’t think it’s going to help. We needed the roads widened, of course, but not the tolls,” says Cornelius resident Carolyn Averill.