Final Section of I-77 Toll Lanes to Open on Saturday After Surprise Announcement
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – After years of construction and controversy, the final segment of the I-77 toll lane project is scheduled to open Saturday night. Drivers can soon take the entire 26-mile stretch from Charlotte to Mooresville.
I-77 Mobility Partners made the surprise announcement about the opening late Saturday afternoon. Then the first cars were scheduled to get on the toll lanes at 8:00pm. However, there were some delays.
The opening comes with no ribbon cutting and little fanfare.
“I think everybody is excited for it to be done. And have them open up all the lanes,” says Mooresville resident Meghan Heath.
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.
“I think a lot of people, at least the people I talk to are kinda waiting to see, financially waiting to see how it’s gonna affect the drivers and the commute,” Heath says.
Right now, it costs 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 December. That’s when prices will change automatically as often as every five minutes, depending on the time of day and traffic volume.
The northern portion of the project opened in June.
NCDOT has been finding Cintra $30,000 a day since November 1st for not having the entire project done.
We’re told that fine will continue for now, because even though the lanes are open, work still isn’t completely finished.
“If the tolls help move traffic along 77 that would actually be great,” says North Charlotte resident Naomi Exune.
Long term, NCDOT would like to convert one toll lane into a free lane and eventually take over operation of the project from Cinta.