Drivers and CRTPO members against proposal for tolls on I-77 south of Uptown Charlotte

An unsolicited proposal wants to build toll lanes on this part of Interstate 77 through Charlotte.
Another battle brewing in Charlotte over toll lanes. This time heading south from Uptown to the South Carolina state line.
Published: Jul. 22, 2022 at 10:14 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Another battle is brewing in Charlotte over toll lanes. This time heading south from Uptown to the South Carolina state line, but the plan and the people behind it are a secret.

The proposal was brought to the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization (CRTPO) meeting, and the lack of transparency didn’t go over well with local leaders.

People WBTV talked to agrees something needs to be done about the traffic we see on I-77 daily during rush hour. It’s just how those plans will look and if they’ll be charging drivers to get to their destination faster.

“I think it might not be a good idea,” Charlotte resident Earline Irvin-Hutchinson said.

An unsolicited proposal wants to build toll lanes on this part of Interstate 77 through Charlotte.

It would run about 11 miles from the Brookshire Freeway in Uptown to the South Carolina state line.

“I don’t like it,” resident Trevon Barbarji said.

Drivers gave a resounding ‘no’ to the idea of more toll lanes on I-77.

Elected leaders on the CRTPO board shared a similar sentiment.

“I am 100 percent opposed to this, and I also was heavily involved in the debacle of I-77 in the north and I’m still not over it,” Pat Cotham, the at-large member of Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners who sits on the CRTPO, said referencing the uproar the I-77 express lanes caused years ago.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation lacks the money for major road upgrades. Toll lanes become the proposed alternative.

“For the first face that I’d have to pay every time I come back home from home because I use that interstate to come home every day, I mean not matter what the fee is, it adds up,” Barbarji said.

Still though, many acknowledge that traffic can be busy.

“If you live here, you see every time 4 o’clock, 6 o’clock it gets pretty heavy,” Barbarji said.

Charlotte Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt wants transparency but said they should also look into solutions for the congestion.

“Something has got to happen to 77 south in my opinion,” she said.

“The roads definitely need to be widened; three lanes are not enough for the middle of Charlotte,” Barbarji said.

CRTPO is upset this plan was submitted in secrecy, and not that they want more information from the state DOT and company that proposed this plan.

“Now that would be even better if they just widen the road and repair the roads, that would be even better, that would be perfect,” Irvin-Hutchinson said.

The board voted to study the area to see what the cost would be, the number of lanes, and impact on neighborhood before anything moves forward.

Related: Toll lanes on I-77 South? They could be coming.

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