Adding a toll lane could speed the expansion of Interstate 77 along the clogged stretch through Huntersville, a consultant reported recently to the Lake Norman Transportation Commission.
The high-occupancy lane in north Charlotte - restricted to drivers with at least one passenger - could be extended in both directions to I-77 Exit 28 in Cornelius and converted into a toll lane, said Lynn Purnell, a civil engineer for consultant Parsons Brinckerhoff.
Motorists would buy electronic transmitters to use the proposed toll lane from Hambright Road in Huntersville to Catawba Avenue in Cornelius. The transmitters would send a signal to a toll system, and the driver would be billed for using the lane.
Drivers could still use the other I-77 lanes free.
Purnell said he will present his report Wednesday to N.C. Secretary of Transportation Gene Conti.
Observer news partner WCNC-TV quoted Purnell as saying the toll lanes could generate about $3.7million in fees in the first year. It would cost about $50million to add 6.7 miles of interstate lanes and install equipment needed to charge the toll, Purnell said.
Such toll lanes - which drivers with at least one passenger would use for free - already are used in about 10 U.S. cities, Purnell said. Special consideration also could be given to owners of hybrid cars, he said.
Enforcement personnel are typically on hand to catch motorists trying to cheat the system by driving solo in the toll lane without paying, Purnell said.
The toll could change depending on the time of day and the amount of traffic in the free "general-use" lanes, Purnell said.
WCNC-TV quoted Mitch Abraham, a Mooresville town commissioner and transportation commission member, as saying he's optimistic the toll proposal could expedite the I-77 widening.
"I think that will entice the state and the NCDOT to possibly look favorably upon us," he said.
What's your vision for Huntersville?
HUNTERSVILLE How should Huntersville look in 2030?
Town leaders want your thoughts as they update the Huntersville Community Plan over the next year.
The plan is the primary policy document guiding land use and development in Huntersville, said Zac Gordon, Huntersville principal planner and project manager.
Last updated in 2003, the plan lays out a vision for Huntersville's downtown, its housing and public facilities, its commercial corridors, economic development, environment and transportation network.
The Planning Department staff will lead the effort, directed by the Huntersville Board of Commissioners and Huntersville Planning Board, which held a kickoff meeting for the update March 8.
Another joint meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. April 12 at Town Hall, 101 Huntersville-Concord Road.
The planning staff will solicit public input in April through a mailed survey, a public forum and an online survey, Gordon said.
Concord's goal: Recycling along greenway
CONCORD Could recycling bins be on the way to Concord's Downtown Connector Greenway and associated parks?
The City Council recently authorized the staff to apply for grants from the Coca-Cola/Keep America Beautiful Recycling Bin Grant Program. The program provides collection bins for beverage container recyclables in public settings.
City officials said they will apply for both "bottle bin" and "slant top" containers to increase the likelihood of obtaining a grant.
West Catawba project approved
CORNELIUS The Cornelius Board of Commissioners approved The Fountain Court at Edinburgh Square project last week after the developer made architectural changes to its planned buildings.
White Oak Group LLC intends to construct three commercial-residential buildings at West Catawba Avenue and Edinburgh Square Drive.
Traffic issues at the intersection will be helped if the state agrees to put a traffic signal at the Harborside/West Catawba intersection, Cornelius commissioner Jim Bensman said.
Companies contribute to campaign
CORNELIUS The capital campaign for the nonprofit Lake Norman Regional Economic Development Corp. has raised $408,000, or 68percent of its $600,000 private-sector goal, campaign co-chair Mike Griffin announced at the campaign kickoff at XO Tapas Wine Bar recently.
Among the contributors:
Platinum Level ($50,000 or more): ElectriCities, Ingersoll Rand, towns of Cornelius, Davidson and Huntersville.
Gold Level ($25,000-$49,999): Griffin Brothers, Fifth Third Bank, Presbyterian Hospital, Wachovia Bank.
Silver Level ($10,000-$24,999): Advanced Disposal, Davis Capital Group, Duke Energy, Energy United.
Bronze Level (less than $10,000): Allied Waste/Republic Services, Aquesta Bank, BB&T, Boatsman Gillmore, Childress Klein Properties, Daetwyler Corp., Davidson Chocolates, Deborah Young Studios, Hampton Inn, Knox Group, Morgan Stanley, Newell Rubbermaid Inc., PSI Control Solutions, US Trust/Bank of America, XO Tapas Wine Bar.
Campaign director Severin Garrett expects to reach the goal in May.