More toll lanes could be coming to Charlotte

A $551 million project to add toll lanes on Interstate 77 from the South Carolina line to the Belk Freeway is among 77 statewide transportation projects being considered for future funding, North Carolina's Department of Transportation says.

The 9.4-mile project would add four toll lanes, two in each direction. Construction would start in 2026.

Work on a $647 million project to build two toll lanes in each direction of I-77 between uptown Charlotte and Cornelius is scheduled to be completed by late this year. One new lane will be added between Cornelius and Mooresville. Construction of the 26-mile project began in November 2015.

Opposition to the I-77 north toll lanes has simmered for years, but state transportation officials say there's not enough construction money available to build anything other than what they call "managed" lanes.

Construction of a toll lane in Independence Boulevard also scored high in the rankings.

The I-77 widening is among 14 Mecklenburg County highway and aviation projects, worth nearly $3.3 billion, that scored highest among the more than 2,100 projects evaluated for construction over the next decade. The projects were scored on the basis of safety, congestion and cost-benefit analysis.

Members of the public can comment on the projects, and the scores, between April 30 and June 8. Local planning organization and DOT division engineers will collect those comments for "local input points." The points will be combined with the data scores to arrive at a total score for each project to be released in August.

The top-scoring projects will be added to the 2020-29 State Transportation Improvement Plan for construction based on available funding.

Among other Mecklenburg projects that scored highly:

  • I-277: $221 million in upgrades to interchanges and ramps around the loop around uptown Charlotte.
  • I-77/ I-85 interchange: $82 million to build elevated ramps in each direction from I-85 to I-77.
  • Independence Boulevard: $76.8 million to build a new toll lane in the median of Independence Boulevard from I-277 to Albemarle Road.
  • I-485: $41 million to improve the interchange with N.C. 49 (Exit 1) in southwest Charlotte.
  • I-485: $40.6 million to the N.C. 51 interchange (Exit 64).
Bruce Henderson: 704-358-5051; @bhender