Driver says he was billed, forced into the express lanes on I-77 after accident

Man says he was wrongly charged for tolls on I-77 Express Lanes

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - More people are calling WBTV for help after they say they were forced to use the I-77 express lanes and charged.

It’s the second time we’ve gotten a call about this problem in two months.

Benjamin Curtis said he never uses the express lanes, but the Highway Patrol, due to an accident, forced him and all traffic into the express lanes.

Now, he along with all the other motorists, are being forced to pay toll charges.

Curtis said that is simply wrong.

“I feel that I was wrongly charged for something that I was forced to do,” Curtis said.

It was May 20.

Curtis was coming home from work from Mooresville to Charlotte. He was traveling on I-77 South until he saw flashing lights at the scene of an accident.

“The North Carolina State Highway Patrol had the highway shut down and forced us into the express lane,” Curtis said.

Curtis said he was diverted at Sam Furr at Exit 25 with hundreds of other drivers.

30 days later, Curtis and most likely everyone else got a bill for 1-dollar and 31 cents from NC Quick Pass for using the express lane.

“So I contacted I-77 Express and tried to appeal the charges,” Curtis said. “They were basically telling me if I didn’t pay it, I would lose my registration to my car.”

Curtis said it’s not the money but the principle - a sentiment echoed by another I-77 driver we talked within June, who claimed he, too, was forced into the express lanes due to an exit that was closed.

“I really didn’t want to get on the toll road, didn’t need to, traffic wasn’t that heavy that day,” Curtis said.

Mark Zenow, Curtis and others say enough - asking how the toll authority can knowingly force these drivers to pay.

Kurt Naas, a staunch opponent of the toll lanes said this isn’t the first he’s heard of problems like this.

“I’ve heard cases where people have been misdirected into the toll lanes or unknowingly directed and they’ve actually contacted their state senator or their state representative who has in turn contacted the toll company,” Naas said.

WBTV Investigates contacted the NC Turnpike Authority.

They indicated:

“NC Quick Pass did receive a dispute from the customer. However, the dispute was denied because traffic was not diverted into the express lanes due to this incident and there was a general-purpose lane open for travel.”

Curtis tells a different story.

“They took advantage of someone who was innocent and I’m sure I’m not the only one,” he said.

Curtis maintains there were no lanes open and he was forced into express lanes. Transportation officials are refusing to void the bill.

WBTV is continuing to investigate why the Turnpike Authority is saying one thing, but drivers are claiming another.

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