CHARLOTTE, NC. — Drivers can take the entire 26-mile stretch from Charlotte to Moorseville. WCCB tested the new express lanes on the southern portion of I-77 during rush hour on Monday. We flew by the regular lanes.
Diego Priamo drove the express lanes on the way to work on Monday.
“I was like screw this. I’m just going to take, let’s just try it out. It was awesome. It made a difference because I passed a ton of cars on the way. It cut my commute time for five minutes,” says Priamo.
Construction on the toll lanes is far from over. Between barrier construction, ramp work and repaving.
“I noticed that the roads was a little uneven and our tires could have been slashed and we could’ve slipped off the road. I wish they fix them a little quicker,” says North Charlotte Resident Marthah Isom.
North Carolina DOT has been assessing liquidated damages to I-77 Mobility Partners up to $30,000 a day since November 1st for not having the entire project completed.
So far, that’s $540,000. It’s unlikely I-77 Mobility Partners will end up paying that much. They could negotiate the final amount.
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. Without a big payout to Cintra.
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.