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Cornelius News

Is a single general purpose lane on I-77 between Exit 23 and Exit 28 going to help?

March 16. By Dave Vieser. Members of the I77 Advisory Group took a hard look at several toll lane options, including the possibility of converting one of the toll lanes between Exit 23 and Exit 28 into a general purpose lane.

The idea, which comes out of the Mercator consultant report, did not go over big with WidenI77 founder Kurt Naas, a Cornelius Town Board member. “Adding a GP lane between exit 23 and 28 is a half-measure at best. It does not solve the bottleneck problem over the causeways and does not eliminate private tolling, so our region’s main transportation artery is still held hostage to a foreign entity for the next 50 years.”

Traffic counts are exceptionally heavy in this section of the interstate and average speeds are considerably lower.

Among those in attendance at Wednesday’s meeting was NCDOT Secretary James H. Trogdon, who categorized the Exit 23/28 option as “Complete and Modify.”

NCDOT officials said that if such a plan were implemented, there would be a reduction in the amount of toll revenue collected. In addition, there would be a need for some design modifications to the new road, which could cost as much as $10 million.

If the Exit 23-28 option was to be selected, it would also not happen immediately. “This option and all other modification options would open as originally proposed, in this case two general purpose lanes and two toll lanes,” said Trogdon. “When the modifications were completed, it would then be changed to three general purpose lanes, and one managed lane.”

Another option which the committee members reviewed was reducing the financial input on frequent users. Using transponders connected to the NC Turnpike Authority, this option would provide discounts to motorists who use the toll lanes several times a day.

One encouraging development emerged from the meeting: The DOT’s live stream worked flawlessly. Previous streaming efforts, which would have enabled residents to listen and watch from home on their computers, had failed.
“We bought new equipment since the last meeting and tested it all out,” said the DOT’s Carly Olexik. “We also have back-up equipment, so we should not have the livestream issues that we had previously.”

At the next meeting which is scheduled for 1 pm Tuesday March 27 the committee will review in detail the remaining options from the Mercator Report. The meeting will be held at the Lake Norman Chamber Meeting Room on Catawba Avenue in Cornelius.