CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A local man called WBTV after he said he was detoured on I-77 out of the free lanes and into the toll lanes.
He was shocked to receive a bill in the mail afterward.
Mark Zenow said his complaint is not about the money, it’s about the principle of being detoured and then forced to hand over a toll for the inconvenience.
“I just think it’s a little bit of an injustice,” Zenow said.
Zenow lives in south Charlotte and doesn’t usually head to the northside of town.
However, last month, he was running errands and that led him to West Brookshire where he and dozens of other motorists planned to merge on to I-77 North.
“From the Brookshire to I-77 North is always super crowded," Zenow said. "A lot of times it’s actually backed up onto the Brookshire, so there were probably a dozen cars in front of me and certainly plenty behind me.”
Zenow said that as he tried to merge on to I-77, the entrance ramp was closed or blocked.
Transportation officials confirmed the ramp was closed due to an accident.
Zenow said he was detoured onto the toll road where he drove at least two miles out of his way to zig-zag back on to I-77.
“I really didn’t want to get on the toll road, didn’t need to, traffic wasn’t that heavy that day,” he said.
Two weeks later, Zenow received a bill from the Turnpike Authority for $1.46
“You start doing the math in a 10-second period there were probably 10 or 12 cars that had to get onto that toll road, and you extrapolate that out across the length of a day, and it’s just a lot of cars and a lot of $1.50 or fees that are getting stacked up on top of each another.”
I-77 Mobility Partners, the company that operates the I-77 express lanes, responded with a statement saying, “On May 22, the on-ramp to the I-77 northbound general-purpose lanes from I-277 was closed between 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. while emergency crews cleared a tractor/trailer incident on I-77.”
They also claim "drivers had the choice to either take the free detour via Highway 16 to 85 and back onto I-77 or they could choose to pay to use the express lanes.”
According to the North Carolina Turnpike Authority, NC Quick Pass submitted a toll dispute on behalf of Zenow to I-77 Mobility Partners.
Despite what the company that operates the lanes said, Zenow says he only saw one option to take the lanes.
At this point, the state won’t commit to dropping the bill he and dozens of other drivers received.