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Cornelius News

Toll lane construction will shut down HOV lane


Nov. 17. By Dave Vieser. Just in time for the holiday season, the state DOT is closing a portion of the southbound HOV lane on I-77 to facilitate construction of the toll lanes between Charlotte and Lake Norman. I-77 Mobility Partners said it would close the HOV lane from I-85 to its end, near Oaklawn Bridge just north of uptown Charlotte.

The HOV lane runs from Exit 18 to Exit 9, and is reserved for cars with multiple passengers.

News of the closure generated mixed feelings among local residents and officials. “Candidly, after all these years and one fiasco after another involving I-77, I don’t really expect anything much better than nonsense from the DOT,” said Cornelius Commissioner Dave Gilroy.

The HOV lane has been used for Charlotte-bound motorists from the Lake Norman area seeking to by-pass the usual congestion on I-77’s three main traffic lanes.  The HOV lane splits from the three main lanes when approaching the I-85 interchange, and usually carries just a fraction of the traffic volume found on the other lanes. It is just that spot where the lane will be closed, probably for several months.

However, Kurt Naas, head of the anti-toll advocacy group Widen I-77, said the closing was a “non-event. The HOV lanes begin where I-77 is six or more lanes, so they never addressed the Lake Norman bottleneck.”

He did say the outcome of the gubernatorial election may change the toll road’s long-range construction plans. “Lake Norman voters took out their frustrations with Governor McCrory on the toll issue at the ballot box,” Naas said.  “Given that Roy Cooper’s victory—if it holds up—is in part due to the toll issue, we will absolutely be asking him to cancel the toll contract.”