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I-77 High Occupancy/Toll (HOT) Lanes

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Federal Highway Administration approved the Finding of No Significant Impact document FONSI on October 16, 2013. The FONSI is the final document issued for this project. A FONSI is prepared when environmental analysis and interagency review determine a project has no significant impacts on the quality of the environment.



Project Overview and Purpose

The N.C. Department of Transportation, in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), is proposing improvements to 26 miles of I-77 from the Brookshire Freeway (Exit 11) in Mecklenburg County to N.C. 150 (Exit 36) in Iredell County with the inclusion of High Occupancy/Toll (HOT) lanes.

HOT lanes are managed lanes that allow free use for eligible carpoolers (three passengers or greater), buses, and motorcyclists, while allowing other drivers into the HOT lane for a fee. The number of cars using these lanes can be controlled by varying the fee to encourage free-flowing traffic in the HOT lanes at all times, including morning and evening rush hour. The price would be higher during peak periods when demand is greater, and lower during less congested periods. If a motorist doesn’t want to pay the toll, they can still use the general purpose lanes at no cost. This project will not remove or add general purpose lanes. Several states are currently operating HOT lanes, including Texas, Colorado, California, and Virginia.

This portion of the I-77 corridor currently experiences significant congestion; future traffic forecasts/projections show the congestion worsening if no improvements are implemented.

Improvements to the corridor face physical, environmental, and financial constraints, requiring innovative solutions. The purpose of this project is to improve mobility and travel time reliability by managing the traffic flow along these critical portions of I-77.

This project is included in the Mecklenburg-Union Metropolitan Planning Organization’s (MUMPO) planning area, which is experiencing remarkable growth.

  • Its urban population has increased 135% in the last 25 years;
  • The area was once ranked the 64th largest urban area in the country, is now ranked 43rd;
  • In 2011, a Texas Transportation Institute Mobility Report showed an increase in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) from 7.6 million per day to 11.6 million per day;
  • Traffic on I-77 between I-85 and Iredell County has increased more than four percent each year for the last five years; and
  • Traffic on the corridor is predicted to increase two to three percent annually through 2030.

In 2007, NCDOT partnered with the South Carolina DOT, City of Charlotte DOT and other regional agencies in the
Fast Lanes study. This report analyzed existing and planned highways in ten counties to identify where HOT/HOV/truck-only facilities could help reduce congestion. The study identified the I-77 North corridor as a high priority. In 2009, a feasibility study was conducted to consider converting the existing HOV lanes on I-77 to HOT lanes, and to extend the converted lanes to Catawba Avenue (Exit 28) in Cornelius.

In July 2011, the MUMPO amended their 2035 Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP), with the inclusion of I-5405 (one HOT lane in each direction).

In 2012, NCDOT began exploring the use of HOT lanes and variable tolling to address long term congestion management in the corridor, minimizing public contributions and utilizing private capital. In June 2012, the MUMPO amended its 2035 LRTP and 2012-2018 TIP to include converting the existing HOV lanes to HOT lanes, adding a second HOT lane between I-85 (Exit 13) and I-485 (Exit 19), and building two new HOT lanes between I-485 and Catawba Avenue.

In May 2013, MUMPO again amended its 2035 LRTP and its 2012-2018 TIP to include I-3311C and I-4750AA to provide HOT lanes along I-77 from I-277 (Brookshire Freeway) in Mecklenburg County to NC 150 (Exit 36) in Iredell County.

Objectives for this project include:

  • Adding capacity through the corridor;
  • Ensuring integration with other projects in the corridor;
  • Using variable pricing to facilitate long term congestion management;
  • Minimizing public contribution and financial burden;
  • Bringing private capital to allow innovative financing approaches;
  • Operating speed standards during morning and afternoon peak periods; and
  • Achieving an average speed of 45 mph in HOT lanes, or 80 percent of current posted speed limit for general purpose/HOV lanes.

Benefits for this project include:

  • Decreased fuel consumption;
  • Carpool/transit options;
  • Improved air quality;
  • Travel time reliability;
    • By 2035, peak travel speeds in HOT lanes are expected to be 25-35 mph faster than general purpose lanes; and
    • This service is contractually mandated over the life of the contract – to provide superior, consistent travel times, especially in peak hours;
  • Revenue generation;
  • Nationally, transportation needs exceed available funding. The MUMPO’s 2035 Long Range Transportation Plan indicates 34 of 310 projects can be funded with traditional federal and state resources over the next 25 years;
  • HOT lanes will provide another resource to maintain the I-77 corridor.

Project Synopsis

The proposed project is a conversion and expansion of the current High Occupancy Vehicle (HOT) facility, which will provide additional capacity to I-77.

The Southern Section (I-3311-C) of the corridor extends from the Brookshire Freeway near Tryon Street onto I-77 North for approximately two miles and along I-277 from I-77 to N. Brevard Street in Uptown Charlotte..... This portion of the project requires right-of-way acquisition, along with current HOV lane conversion and new HOT lanes adjacent to the existing general purpose lanes. Initial concepts include a flyover bridge providing direct access from I-77 to I-277. In addition, the southbound lanes on I-77 that were narrowed during construction of the existing HOV lanes will be widened. A total of two HOT lanes will be provided in each direction.

Additional Resources

This section includes the following helpful information:


The Central Section (I-5405) of the corridor begins at the I-85 interchange (Exit 13) and continues approximately 15 miles to Catawba Avenue (Exit 28) in Cornelius. This section includes converting the existing HOV lanes to HOT lanes, providing two HOT lanes in each directions.

The Northern Section (I-4750AA) of the corridor begins at the Catawba Avenue interchange and continues approximately 9 miles to N.C. 150 (Exit 36) in Iredell County. In this section, one HOT lane will be built in each directions.

Contact Information

Jamille Robbins
NCDOT Human Environment Section

  • Email: Contact Us
  • Phone: 919) 707-6085
  • Address: 1598 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1598

Resources for Local Property Owners

In many cases, it is inevitable that a certain amount of private property must be acquired. The displacement of homes and businesses is minimized to the extent practicable. The following brochures will answer questions about this process.