Shoulder Lanes to Be Added to I-77 Toll Lanes

CHARLOTTE, NC -Relief to the congestion in the toll lane stretch of I-77 may be on the way. The Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization approved a plan that would increase the usable lanes of traffic in certain sections of the road.

“It’s incremental, but at least it’s a step in the right direction,” said Kurt Naas, a Cornelius Commissioner.

He’s in favor of the $47 million dollar shoulder hardening project. The North Carolina Department of Transportation says it’s looking at 11 possible locations to pave the shoulders along I-77 between 485 and Exit 36 in Mooresville.

“As far as commuters go, this is actually for local traffic because it’s going to go from exit to exit,” said Naas.

But Cintra, the private company that controls and operates the toll lanes is opposed to the new project, saying according to its contract, ” modifying the outside shoulders.. to accept general-purpose lane traffic is only permitted with fair compensation.”

But Scott Cole with NCDOT says the shoulders would only be used during peak travel times, which means the project would fall outside the agreement with Cintra.

“Their contract would stand on its own and this would be a separate and different project,” said Cole during the planning organization meeting.

Governor Roy Cooper touted the project saying in a statement, ” the Department of Transportation is pushing to ultimately have state operation of the I-77 project. This is another step toward that goal.”

Naas agrees.

“People are ready for the construction to end and really ready for a long term solution and 50 years of private tolling through the Lake Norman region is not the long term solution,” said Naas.