Friday, November 18, 2011
North Carolina is considering adding a toll lane as part of a project to widen I-485 in South Charlotte and Pineville.
The N.C. Department of Transportation is likely to add a high-occupancy toll lane, or HOT lane, in both directions of I-485 between I-77 and U.S. 521/Johnston Road, Barry Moose, N.C. Division of Highways engineer said. Engineers and local officials want to install the toll lanes in addition to widening already planned between I-77 and Johnston.
That stretch of highway is one of the most congested in the state, carrying 120,000 cars a day on only four lanes. Backups are common during morning and afternoon rush hour and it can routinely take a driver 20 minutes to go one mile.
Moose says taking the road straight to four lanes each direction from the current two would be much cheaper than doing a third lane now and going back and doing a fourth sometime in the future. And that using the toll lane option may enable the state to afford widening I-485 to four lanes now.
The state already plans to spend nearly $59 million to widen the interstate between I-77 and Johnston. In that plan, crews would start, likely next year, adding a third lane in both directions between I-77 and Johnston, with a fourth “auxiliary lane” on the inside loop between Johnston and N.C. 51/Pineville-Matthews Road. But completion of the project would only improve the segment of highway to a D grade for the state transportation department, up from its current F, the lowest-possible grade.
There are currently no toll roads in the Charlotte area. But it’s likely to be the wave of the future.
The state plans to build a toll road in Union County, the Monroe Connector/Bypass, as well as a toll road in Gaston County, the Garden Parkway. In addition, the DOT is considering converting the current carpool lane on I-77 in north Mecklenburg to a toll lane.
Information for this article gathered from Charlotte Observer, WBTV, and NCDOT.