The next rounds of discussions concerning the future of the express lanes on Interstate 77 are slated for the middle of next month, according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT). At that time, N.C. Secretary of Transportation Jim Trogdon, who took part in most of the I-77 Local Advisory Group meetings held earlier this year, is expected to present an outline of conclusions based on information and ideas shared during those sessions.
“After we further evaluate the various options and feedback we have received, Sec. Trogdon will provide an update to the group,” NCDOT public relations officer Carly Olexik wrote in an email. “The plan is to meet on August 15.”
The advisory group, consisting of representatives of towns, counties and chambers of commerce in the 26-mile Mooresville-to-Charlotte corridor where express lanes are being added to I-77, met seven times January to May examining details of the express lanes contract and options for altering or terminating the project. At the May 10 meeting, a majority endorsed the idea of converting one of the project’s managed lanes into a general purpose lane.
Alterations in terms or scope of the current plan – which gives project investor and builder I-77 Mobility Partners the authority to manage all aspects of the lanes as a business venture for 50 years – would result in financial and logistical consequences. At the conclusion of the May 10 meeting, Trogdon said he would evaluate group recommendations, while considering the consequences, and schedule a follow-up meeting.
In the meantime, construction continues on the lanes that are scheduled to open by the end of this year. Before then, area residents will have the opportunity to get an overview of the project.
“We will be holding a public hearing this fall prior to opening that will discuss operations of the project and how tolling will work,” Jean Leier, director of corporate affairs for I-77 Mobility Partners, said. “The time and location are not yet set, but we will provide notification in the communities in advance of the meeting.”
Once complete, vehicles with three or more occupants and equipped with a transponder will be able to travel in express lanes for free. Others will be charged tolls, with fees determined by the level of demand.