Widen I-77 with general purpose lanes, not HOT lanes


You might be asking, “What’s the big deal about toll lanes?”

These are not your parents tolls of 25 cents into the basket.  The cost for these tolls from Mooresville to Charlotte could cost $5.00, $6.50 and up to $16.00 or more each way. Drivers are given the choice to sit in even more congestion in the two lanes you have today or pay the high price to use the tolls. These lanes are nick-named “Lexus Lanes”. Do you want to pay $10 a day for your work commute or to get your kids to school and activities — on top of gas and other fees (including NC’s highest gas tax in the Southeast)?

“I heard it was a done deal. Is that true?”
Unfortunately, that is what some of the pro-toll officials are saying, but it is absolutely not a done deal for a number of reasons. First, the contract has not been signed. Second, there are still steps that have yet to been taken that will provide both the state and local officials to change the course. Third, towns across America have stopped similar projects pushed by their DOT organizations. When there’s a will, there’s a way.

I was told that there is no funding and it’s either tolls or nothing for 20 years?
Again, that is more spin and scare tactics used by the tolling corporations and their political partners. New funding criteria set forth by the state’s new transportation plan and the new ranking criteria by the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization will place I-77 toward the top of the list for public funds for adding general purpose lanes to I-77. As you look around the state you see plenty of other highway projects. Clearly there is funding for roads and with wise prioritization and leaders who will put the citizens first instead of corporate special interests, we can get the general purpose lanes we need.

_________________________________________________________

Sign up to help stop the Toll lane proposal for I-77  

Widen I-77 is a citizen’s group dedicated to widening Interstate 77 through the Lake Norman area with general purpose lanes.  Right now our state and local governments are proposing High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes.

These HOT lanes will be operated for profit by a private company with contract term of 50 years. HOT Lanes will not solve our congestion problems and end up costing far more than general purpose lanes.

According to documents and memos obtained by wideni77:

  1. HOT lanes will have “minimal impact to travel speeds in the existing general purpose lanes”
  2. HOT lanes could cost as much as six times a comparable general purpose lane when operating costs, profit and required improvements are factored in
  3. HOT lanes could restrict our ability to improve North-South connectivity on I-77 for the next 50 years
  4. There is no limit on how high tolls can be set

I-77 was built in the 1970′s.  Since then, the region’s population has grown tenfold, yet there has not been a single improvement in north-south connectivity in nearly 40 years. I77 is now the only stretch of interstate in Mecklenburg County that remains four lanes, and if the HOT lane plan succeeds, will be the first privately-operated toll lane in North Carolina.

We are asking our local elected leaders to convene a task force to develop alternative solutions. In the meantime, we are also asking the NCDOT to postpone awarding the private company contract until all of the proposed solutions have been thoroughly vetted.

HOT lanes are the WRONG WAY to widen I-77 through Lake Norman.

Email us at wideni77@hotmail.com with questions or feel free to comment below.

Sources:

1) “Comments on Environmental Documents for TIP Projects I-3311 C and I-4750 HOT”, MUMPO memo dated October 4, 2012

2)“I-77 HOT Lane Project Discussion with Cornelius Town Board”, email from Bill Coxe to Andrew Grant, October 15, 2012

3) “I-77 Feasibility Study HOV-HOT Lanes Conversion”, Parsons- Brinkerhoff, May 6, 2010

4) I- 3311E; “I-77 Local Officials Meeting”, August 1, 2012

5) US Census Bureau data, 1980

6) US Census Bureau data, 2010

7) MUMPO 2012- 2018 TIP (Adopted)

116 Responses to Widen I-77 with general purpose lanes, not HOT lanes

  1. Joe Staroscaik says:

    Most people left the North amongst other things escape tollls that do not do much for highway systems their other than charge tolls that keep increasing every year. We need to maintain the beauty of Lake Norman and if it means a little congestion during rush hours we will live with it to keep the enjoyable experience of crossing and enjoying the sights of the beautiful Lake.

    • wideni77 says:

      How will adding an additional lane eliminate the “sights of the beautiful Lake”?

    • Jeff says:

      LOL…..when you go from 70 mph to sitting still so some simpleton can “enjoy the sights of the beautiful lake” it ain’t too enjoyable. Hey…….IT’S WATER It aint the Grand Canyon.

      • Jay Privette says:

        Just how many people traveling I-77 are going where the light rail goes? Have your ever seen anyone carrying commerce on a light rail train? If you get what you wish for we will end up with more expensive Blue Lines, which by conservative estimates of the retired transportation professor of UNCC costs tax payers over $20 per rider in subsidies. I’ve done the calculations for the extension to the University area, and it could easily cost taxpayers in excess of $70 per rider. At such a cost it will still only be suitable for a small percent of commuters traveling to destinations that are within walking distance of the light rail stops. Nothing takes people and commerce door to door wherever they need to go, and on their own schedule, better than roads.

        As an alternative you suggest we go with HOT lanes on I-77 and grant a private partnership a 50 year contract that guarantees they make a profit or the taxpayers will make up for it. In order to make a profit in the traditional way the general purpose lanes on I-77 will need to be congested in order to make it worth the toll for the more affluent commuters to use the HOT lanes. To top it off, trucks will not be allowed in the HOT lanes. What manufacturer in his right mind is going to move anywhere near where their trucks are going to be stuck in traffic? Even if they were allowed to use the HOT lanes, that would add to their cost of doing business. That’s not exactly a way to promote commerce.

  2. Mark Neroni says:

    To be honest, philosophically, I don’t have a problem with a pay-for-use funding model. However, I don’t believe the Charlotte Metro Area should be bearing the additoinal burden alone. Why do other parts of the state have roads that will be wide enough for the next 100 years, yet Charlotte has been neglected? Why is the State discriminating against the Charlotte area?

    • Tom Davis says:

      One needs to understand the Gasoline Tax was created to build roads and bridges. This fund has been used for “other things” in the budget by the Democrats for years. The Republicans now have an opportunity to pass a Constitutional Amendment to restrict this tax just for its intended use.
      Question should be…Where is the gasoline tax being spent?

    • Mary Lou Richardson says:

      Thank you Mark,
      I have been working for Pat McCrory for 4 years telling people we need a governor from Mecklenburg/Iredell because all of our tax money has been going to the east part of NC. It is our turn we have paid our taxes.

    • Jay Privette says:

      The truth is Charlotte squanders the transportation money it gets from the state on things like light rail that carries less than 1% of the area commuters, isn’t as green as an SUV and requires subsidies in excess of $20 per rider. Why? For the benefit of a few politically connected land owners and developers of properties along the rail lines. Roads in NC have been more than paid for by our gas and road use taxes. Because the money for essential services was squander, we are called upon for more money. The corruption and political favors in Mecklenburg is great because the pile of money available in Mecklenburg is great.

  3. David Orbaugh says:

    Please keep us apprised of meetings we can attend to support the cause

  4. mjm77713 says:

    The first thing that strikes me with the present HOT dialogue is an expected lifespan of 50 years for the private company contract.
    A) First of all, why would we commit to 50 years of any specific modality of communication? At the rate of technological changes, cars, trains and busses might be long extinct by then. In that context, a 50 year commitment is sort of ridiculous. What will the tax be as I ride my T-rex to Charlotte?
    B) Why would we the taxpayers give a private company the profits of hundreds of millions of dollars, instead of having the Towns involved create a company that will reap the rewards of any potential tax, and capture the tax for LOCAL benefit. (Something our State and Federal representatives have not done so well for us in this regard.)

    But all that is moot conversation. It seems to me that if our elected officials had the taxpayers best interests at heart, there would be an open and transparent dialogue regarding as many creative traffic improvement options as can be reasonably conceived, with each one’s specific pros and cons weighted appropriately. Then, with the strengths and weaknesses of each possible option comparatively valued to the rest, should the vote go to the Town / County.
    Instead of the present conversation, which appears to be in a funnel moving toward one predetermined choice, by close-minded “leaders” restricting (ignoring) not only creative lane options, but building processes, and funding scenarios.
    (Or is it just me that is seeing the present dialogue with one eye closed?)
    To continue down this funnel based on the entropic logic that, “if we don’t follow through with this idea, all our time ‘invested’ in the HOT lanes would have been for naught”, would be a 50 year (to start with) abominable torture forced upon all present and future residents of this area.
    The mindest that is “we HAVE to take what’s on the table for fear of it not being here tomorrow” comes from the short-term “All that Glitters is Gold” school of thought, and I suggest does not serve the residents of this area properly. And in that regard alone, seems like going back to the drawing board and evaluating the best long term solution is the local officials responsibility.

    In truth, I would agree with the idea that 5 or 10 minutes in traffic is better than 50 year, unrestricted fee HOT lanes. Please don’t “improve” it beyond repair. Sometimes nothing is the best choice. (And if, purchance we find that “nothing” was not the best choice, at least we can be comforted in knowing that HOT lanes, as depicted, are worse than doing nothing. Only with no option for change.) (That’s not true. HOT’s will change. The toll will always go higher.)

  5. Mike M says:

    The towns of Mooresville, Davidson, Cornelius and Huntersville need to be very careful. If I read this information correctly, we as taxpayers could be responsible for any shortfall by the private contractor. We need to let our politicians know we don’t need another MI Connection fiasco where we are responsible as taxpayers for shortfalls.

  6. Kurt,
    Thanks for taking the lead on this important issue. The addition of a general purpose lane going north and south between Exits 23 and 30 for a total cost of about $70 million shared by CATS, State, and the Federal government seems reasonable. This section of I77 is just as important to regional commerce as it is to local commuters and should receive a wider range of financial support in the same way as the Blue Line extension, trolly and other Mecklenburg County projects. User fees in the form of HOT lanes should be added as a last resort. Property taxes should be off the table as an option for helping fund this portion of the transportation infrastructure. The LNTC and political leadership need to stand up and demand our fair share of the regional infrastructure dollars.
    Thanks again for trying to bring common sense to this P3 HOT initiative before it adds excessive cost to an already expensive need.

    Vince Winegardner
    Davidson, NC

  7. John stroup says:

    Where are Thomas Tillis and Mel watt. Maybe Robert pittenger and th new governor will provide the 4 lanes we need on i77 from charlotte to stateville

  8. Anonymous says:

    You all need a reality check. There is no money for improvements of this nature anymore. Keep pushing it and there will be no new lanes at all. Education is wonderful thing, you should try it.

    • Kurt Naas says:

      Money is available. Priorities have been misguided. Education is a wonderful thing, It may be what saves us from a 50 year mistake. If an alternative is adopted, it will most certainly be education that gets us there.

  9. Steve says:

    They need to hide the beauty of the Lake cause idiot’s can’t just drive the speed limit while they drive on the bridge. I guess there hoping to see a naked woman or something can’t stand those bridges. People need to drive the speed and quit slowing down or riding in the fast lane going slower then the posted speed limit. Slowing down before they get to an exit. Not being smart enough to move over and let cars merge onto the highway. It should have already been widened by now, doesn’t make sense for them to add these new exits and not widen it while they do that. Speaking of which the only thing people use exit 31 Lang tree exit is to use it to bypass backed up traffic that is there every single day of the week.

    • YesIAgree says:

      Actually Steve, it is NOT the responsibility of those who are already on a freeway in NC to “move over” to allow others onto the highway. Unnecessary lane changes are dangerous and cause slower traffic. It is the responsibility of NEW drivers ENTERING a freeway to ADJUST their speed while on an entrance ramp and to MERGE into traffic! That’s what an entrance ramp is for! I agree with everything else you said, including stupid drivers slowing down ON the freeway instead of on the exit ramp.

      • Eric says:

        The cause of the traffic is not people looking at the lake (although it may seem so)… it’s the population growth, the commuters and people travelling though the area. Look at I-77 southbound now between exits 36 and 31, before you even get to see the lake. This is among one of the worst sections. The cause? Lowes corporate headquarters letting a thousand people out at 5:00PM all at once, tons of new development at the Langtree exit area, etc.

        The northbound side needs longer and better designed merges coming onto the highway from exits 28, 30 and 33. All are short ramps and they all force you to merge on a section of the roadway where the interstate lanes are curving to the right, thereby reducing visibility and making the merge even more difficult. This causes slowdowns, wrecks and even more traffic.

        • Eric says:

          Also take the lead of some states and make the dotted line in between the travel lanes a solid line from a quarter of a mile before the entry ramps and continue it until a quarter of a mile after the end of the merge lane

          This helps the merging process (yes I know not everyone will play by the rules) so you don’t have idiots changing lanes (especially from the left to right lane) as vehicles are trying to merge into the right lane. This is a major cause of the wrecks. You can’t have lane changes from one side into a lane accepting merging from the other.

          This actually should be done at every exit on every interstate in NC.

      • mRKNOWitALL says:

        HEY mr. YESIAGREE steve didn’t say it’s the drivers responsibility to move over and let merging traffic in! He simply stated it would be smart of them if they had the open lane and opportunity to move over and facilitate the merging, then it might help traffic moving. At least slow a tiny bit to forgo an accident. It’s everyone’s “responsibility” to drive safely, not just the merging lane trying to drive nascar lol.

  10. Richard says:

    This is how it all starts, if you allow one toll to be build others will follow and just like where I come from the next ones wont require your permission. STOP them before is too late. find another way to raise the money for projects, tolls are a scam.

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed! I lived in Massachusetts for years and the tolls and the additional state bureaucracy they created were a complete boondoggle. We all already pay enough on taxes to have 10 lanes if we need them. ENOUGH of these additional hidden taxes and let’s defeat the money pit that would be a light rail extension or some ridiculous trolley in Uptown that Mayor Tony wants to ride around on so he can play conductor. How about another bus or two instead Tony? Beware the bloated bureaucrats who seek to take more of your money and then go on to waste it. They will just come back for more and more and more…..

      • Jay Privette says:

        Ditto! Light rail and streetcars aren’t about transit, they are about land use. Tony himself told me so, and it is in the 2025 Metropolitan Transit plan (page 6). The Blue Line cost over $20 per rider in subsidies, the extension could cost $70 per rider in subsidies. Anthony Foxx and the others on his round table are OK with taking this amount of money out of the economy if that’s what it takes to please their politically connected contractors and developers. No wonder Charlotte’s unemployment rate is higher than the country’s, With our taxes, who can afford to dine out or buy as many clothes as they used to?

  11. Richard says:

    and by the way, just because you don’t live in the area or drive the highway mentioned in this protest it does not mean you will not be affected, everyone should be involved with this petition, in the long run if we sit idle everyone in NC will be affected.
    Where I come from we don’t pay yearly taxes on our vehicles but we have tolls that more than make up for that payment to the local government and state.
    What I see happening here is even worst, now in addition to paying a yearly tax on our vehicles we are talking about tolls also??? this situation could potentially be worst if we let them build tolls.

  12. MSvir says:

    The original plans to widen I-77 south of Exit 23 was for 2 additional general purpose lanes in each direction. Miraculously construction began in 2001, and from out of nowhere, it was announced that one lane would be for HOV, 2+ people, 24/7 and free. The HOV lanes would be a traffic saviour! Usage of HOV lanes started out at close to zero, mostly used by < 2 people in a car. I guess that would mean just a driver in the car.

    10 years later, guess what? There is still close to zero HOV usage and no enforcement on SOV usage. When no one uses HOV lanes for free, what makes us think people will pay for HOT?

    The whole HOT plan is a typical government, ill conceived plan to spend our tax money in the most inefficient way possible. They get the ball rolling and it becomes a fait accompli! The same thing is happening with public money to renovate the Panthers Stadium.

  13. curtis says:

    What in the world are they doing with the outrageous amount of gas and auto property taxes they extort from us. If there are gonna be user fees then they need to cut the taxes substantally

  14. Anonymous says:

    Has anything been publicly stated as to what the estimate toll charges could range from per use ? Would it be a charge per mile ?

  15. chad petersen says:

    I lived in Southern California for many years. The same project was done on I-15 from San Diego north. The HOV/HOT lanes sat empty and are still empty. You can sit in traffic and enjoy the view of 2 empty lanes while it takes you 30 min. to move a mile. Every year the city and citizens fight to get those lanes open to the public. The fight continues. It’s all about money, not traffic flow. When will you people realize this.

    • Tom Davis says:

      An editorial by a Lincoln County man in today’s Observer summarizes the strategy clearly. Create mass transit and get people out of their cars. Red Line Express is the alleged solution, and it is NOT about money but the Agenda 21 agenda.

      • Jay Privette says:

        There is not a mass transit system in the world that does not require subsidies by those that don’t use it. Cars on the other hand carry people on the schedule they choose, to the destination they want, and the occupants pay 100% of the cost. Why would we want to encourage people that can afford a car to use mass transit? Your right about the Red Line, and I’ll add it is also about politically connected land owners and developers that hope taxpayers will pay to raise the value of their properties.

  16. Not so HOT says:

    Listed below is a letter I sent to my town board, my personal thoughts. It takes grass roots efforts to turn the tide.

    I am writing to express my concern about the proposed HOT lanes for I-77.

    1.) This concept is built upon a model of continued congestion. If there is no congestion, the revenue model does not work for the private vendor.

    2.) The long term costs are MUCH higher (more infrastructure, higher operating costs, patrolling, profit to the private company, etc).

    3.) The plan is short sighted. Selling away the right-of-way to a private company now prevents further expansion down the road. Ask Atlanta if four lanes would have been sufficient for their long term needs.

    4.) Socio-economic Implications. Do we really really want to divide between the haves and the have not’s with Lexus Lanes? There could be other similar models out there, a fee based lane at the DMV for quick service perhaps?

    5.) All Charlotte area residents pay taxes into the system. The expansion of I-77 has been on the TIP books for years. There are other projects happening throughout the region. This is a vital artery essential to the health of the greater region (not just Lake Norman area) as well as inter-state travel so it is surprising that NCDOT / MUMPO have not given it priority in funding allocations for general purpose lanes.

    I please urge you to take action as our local board representation on MUMPO. I am not sure why this project seems to be going forward when there is so much skepticism by the public as well as elected officials.

  17. Jim says:

    What do we do to change the momentum of this thing?

  18. KjL says:

    My tax dollars are for using all of the roads all of the time, not some of the roads some of the time…

  19. Anonymous says:

    No tolls… I thought that was why we paid taxes was to cover the road issues, if tolls are used then that won’t be enough ….then they will come back and ask for more dollars… It will be a never ending black hole …

    • Jay Privette says:

      Your absolutely right. NC’s gas tax is among the highest in the country, and NC collects more in gas taxes and highway fees than it spends on roads. Taxing us more to use highways will just increase the undesirably to live and do business in NC……a losing proposition for everyone in the end. Our roads should be a magnet for growth and prosperity, not a deterrent.

  20. Jack says:

    If you want to see just how ineffective TOLL LANES are, just drive I-85 through Atlanta. No one uses them. They are practically devoid of cars! Toll lanes on I-77, won’t solve the traffic problems, period!

  21. Charles says:

    Has anyone ever heard of AGENDA 21, do a Google search, for a condensed version look for Agenda 21 for dummies, no offence but theirs more to this than meets the eye.
    Toll lanes, light rail, smart growth, control over the population. This is no joke folks, their are long term plans, this must be stopped now.

    • Jay Privette says:

      I’ve heard of Agenda 21. It is scary unless your idea of a good life is to live in a high rise packed into a high density urban core without a car. Little wonder Mecklenburg is among the first in NC to be have commuter rail, moved arenas from the suburbs to downtown and making it more expensive to drive. Pat McCrory is an Agenda 21 advocate, or as he prefers to call it “sustainable development.”

  22. John says:

    Light rail is always more expensive to build and maintain, never is financially self-sustaining, and always a boondoggle to tax payers who pay for the ill-concieved idea without ever getting any benefit for the service. HOT lanes are very similar and will NOT solve the transportation or traffic issues needing solutions. In addition to being a prime example of ineffective governmental involvement and money management as well as an obstacle for commerce and business growth in the region, it also is a public safety issue causing numerous deadly accidents yearly that our elected leaders in the state are responsible for. I was hoping with the election of Pat McCrory that we would finally have an advocate in Raleigh for a logical solution to build badly needed general purpose lanes to effectively deal with area transportation needs, but I am not holding my breathe.

    It disgusts me to think about having this ineffective solution jammed down our throats for the next 50+ years because of back room deals, non-transparent processes, and self-serving politicians. Was it Mark Twain who wrote that the best disinfectant was shinning the light of day into the corners of government? We are in desperate need of a sunny morning.

    • 101charlotte says:

      There is a reason they called the first leg of the Blue Line light rail in Charlotte the “McCrory” Line. Pat also publicly backed the Red Line until August of 2011 when public sentiment started turning against it. Hopefully the tough choices on the budget that are facing him will force him to make the right decisions. He now has to consider the wishes of the whole state, which is a whole lot more conservative and practical than Charlotte where he was mayor.

  23. Nick says:

    I am very glad to hear about this site and the public push regarding the 77 traffic problem. Keep up the great work. Question, when can we organize a get out and vote day and vote each public official against the general lanes out of office. I have no tolerance for incompetence.

    • Kurt Naas says:

      Hi Nick- Unfortunately the contract is set to be awarded this summer, before local elections. Most elected officials say they are in “information gathering” mode. Some time in the not-too-distant future we will be asking for their formal position on toll lanes. You’ll be able to see their answers on our elected officials page- http://wideni77.org/politicians/ and vote accordingly in November.

      • Anonymous says:

        They all refuse to listen to reason. This plan spends a ton of money and provides not only no relief, will make it worse. I am prepared to vote for absolutely no incumbents on any ballot….with very rare exception.

      • Raul Sanchez says:

        HOT Lanes encourages congestion. Does HOV Lanes encourage or combat congestion??

  24. tracy says:

    Why when a state has a fuel tax in place to pay for roads would they choose to build a toll road. Maybe it’s partly because they misappropriate a large percentage of our fuel taxes for other purposes. Let our fuel taxes pay for roads like they were originally intended.

    • Jay Privette says:

      I thought it was a great meeting in Mooresville this evening. Great thoughtful questions were asked. Only a narrow minded self-professed elitist would come out of that meeting thinking they know better than the populace. If our public officials don’t start paying attention to the concerns of their constituents and their proposals, they do so at their own peril.

      • TDS says:

        Agree. These elected officials are obtuse and have another agenda.

        It’s funny I saw an add of TV and Tom Tillis is asking us for our feedback… http://Www.ncpriorities.com

        He keeps asking for feedback but continues with his ‘father knows best’ agenda. I say we flood him with comments about no toll roads. (There is an “other” category to say no toll roads on that website.) If he does nothing then he is truly Tom Toll-us and not worthy of another term for ANY office…

        Come on Tom… are you really listening?!?!?!?!

        A concerned citizen who votes

        • Jay Privette says:

          It is really difficult to give enough thanks for the good Thom Tillis and the Republicans have done since taking over the General Assembly. That said, there are certain sacred cows they refuse to touch In order to do the right thing for the long neglected highways in and around our area, In order to find the money they may have to pull the rug out from under things like the boondoggle billion+ dollar light rail extension that will connect the University area to downtown Charlotte, or the half billion dollar Red Line that will connect Mooresville to the Johnson & Wales area of downtown, There two projects combined won’t carry near the number of commuters as I-77, and they will carry zero commerce, These two projects will only make it more convenient for people to leave the suburbs in order to spend their money in a struggling downtown that disparately needs taxpayer dollars to prop it up.

          Sorry North Mecklenburg, You’ll just have to wait your turn until the uptown Charlotte crowd is finished being served, and they have very big appetites.

  25. So my question is, if you use the toll road do you get a refund on your gas tax??

    NO TOLL ROAD SHOULD BE BUILT WITH PUBLIC FUNDS !! If you build a road with public funds (tax money) then it is a public road.

  26. Jim Holada says:

    Will there be a bicycle lane too?

    • Tom Davis says:

      Or will there be EZ Passes for the “locals” within the zip codes that border I-77 allowing reduced fares ?

    • Ed Braun says:

      Other questions come to mind. If the toll lanes are a good option, why not make them all toll lanes? Let’s put a big toll plaza at the county line?

      • Tom Davis says:

        Simple solution to expedite the flow of traffic is put back up the fence on I-77 at the Meck-Iredell County line. It was a crawl at 10 mph yesterday from Mooresville southbound and immediately picked up to 65 mph AFTER everyone slowed down to look at the gal in the two piece bathing suit. True story.

  27. Lawrence says:

    From the Observer front page WED 27 MAR 2013, page B1, “Gov. McCrory supports bill to cancel three toll road projects, the Garden Parkway, Mid-Currituck Bridge, Cape Fear Skyway. Yet, there is still support for the I – 77 toll road? Each one of those projects would have cost over $ 1 billion each. Yet, there is not $150 million for general purpose lanes on I – 77?

    • Jay Privette says:

      I hear there is an Agenda 21 initiative in the NCDOT directives to change the our driving habits, i.e. provide incentives to get us to car pool or get out of our cars and take transit. Guess what they want to build parallel to I-77? The Red Line. Not only is the Red Line tied to Agenda 21, a lot of development and land interests in North Mecklenburg hope to make lots of money because of it. What better way to induce as many of us as possible to get out of our cars and take the Red Line than to build HOT lanes on the largest highway corridor in N. Mecklenburg…lanes that will not curb congestion but will cost you if you want to use them. Look at the other highway in the area where HOT lanes have been proposed, Independence Blvd. Buses will be allowed on the HOT lanes on Independence Blvd. in addition to a streetcar on adjacent Monroe Road. Does Pat McCrory want to improve our highways or push as many of us as he can into transit? They named Charlotte’s Blue Line light rail the “MCCrory Line” for a reason, and Pat traveled the country on someone’s dime promoting transit before he ran for governor the second time.

      As property values along I-77 go down, rest assured many of the politically connected will be seeing their property values going up.

      • Anonymous says:

        There is good and bad in all the options. I oppose toll lanes, it is just a scheme for the rich that can afford it to have uncongested access at the expense of everyone else. I would prefer no current HOT contract and spend the next 15-20 years getting MUMPO to figure out why this is so far down the list – than to be stuck with a terrible 50 year deal.

        Car Pooling is a great “idea” but doesn’t work. Any form of Mass Transit works IF it can take you where you need to be. I have been on subway/trains in NYC, Boston, SF Bay area, Cleveland and Dallas/Ft Worth. The first 3 have point-to-point options that you can actually navigate from where you are to where you need to be MUCH easier and faster than having a car. I have parked in Jersey and Conn to take the train into NYC, outskirts of Boston to subway into the city and suburban areas of SF and each was far better than driving and trying to park. Cleveland I left the car at the hotel, took the free hotel van to the airport and trained into the City and was able to get everywhere in the city I needed to be although it seems all the places one needs to be are in the general equivalent of Center City Charlotte and doesn’t have major business hubs that are 5-10 miles removed. (HINT: It also helps to have all spokes meet in a Central Station – something Charlotte does not propose making connection from the Red Line to the Blue line a logistic nightmare.) The last two are more limited in terms of Suburban to Central City Destination. Charlotte would fit that model based on what I see.

        If you live where a spoke goes and work in the center city or another spoke location where you can easily walk or connect to a reliable relocator (the trolley busses) – great. But if you live in the lake area and work in Ballantyne, or URP or the Airport business park – you can’t get there. I drive into Center City when I have to, and take the bus for the convienience as much as I can. It takes a little longer, but it is far more peaceful than white knuckling it. But when I have assignments that are not there (URP, Ballentyne, South Park, Matthews, Airport area) then it is a hassle and takes double the time.

        • Jay Privette says:

          Where mass transit works best are in cities that were mature before WW11: NYC, Boston, Chicago, etc. Their whole transportation infrastructure was built around the fact very few urban dwellers had cars. Cities like Charlotte developed for the most part after personal transportation became affordable to the average citizen. Our urban transportation corridors have roads and highways as their core components. Our self-proclaimed elites think we should turn back the hands of time and remake Charlotte in the mold of a NEW York or Boston. That makes about as much sense as building a wall around Charlotte to keep out the invading Huns.

          Times change. Its time our progressive leaders caught up and stopped looking backward .

  28. Bill Ledbetter says:

    NC has over 79,000 miles of state maintained roads,which is the most in the country. there is only one county maintained road in NC and that is in Mecklenburg county. We do not need anymore roads that destroy wildlife habitat, taking land from families who have been on that land for generations, not to mention the trees that are cut down which are natures way of reducing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen that we breath. Our priorities should be to change or improve the areas that causes these bottlenecks, repair our infrastructure,such as bridges,electrical transmission lines, water lines under ground,and of course potholes. Even the 74 bypass around Shelby shouldnot be built. there are alternatives to this, and cheaper solutions to get through Shelby on the already present 74 bypass, like the same thing they did in charlotte, on independence BLVD. take down the traffic lights and block the intersections.Some in the transportation dept. could design a solution but would rather take the easy way out by looking at a map and saying this is where the roads going , not caring about anything in its path, even graveyards aren’t sacred anymore. A bypass around a bypass, get real With all these road projects taking up valuable real estate, we truly are the TAR HEEL STATE.

  29. Anonymous says:

    http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/03/29/3946161/nc-dot-begins-work-on-multiple.html

    Looks like Widening George Lyles Parkway is a $44 mil priority in Cabarrus – - and this is interesting take on it all:

    “In this area, we have more (construction projects) going on probably than anywhere else in the state,” said (Jen) Thompson (communications officer with NCDOT). “Because this area is growing so much … we have to make sure the mobility is at a good level of service. All of the projects will improve safety. Some will improve mobility, and some will enhance other modes of transportation.…”

    Amazing – as I doubt George Lyles Parkway has vehicle count in a day what I-77 near Exit 36 or 33 or 30 or 28 or 25 or 23 have in an hour. But thank goodness that project is getting underway immediately.

  30. Fed Up says:

    Why hasn’t someone looked into the credentials of Thunebergs two consultants. If
    I am not wrong, they work for one of the largest roadbuilders in the country.

  31. Anon says:

    Would it help if there was a petition set up on Change.org so that informed residents of Huntersville, Cornelius, Davidson, Mooresville could make a statement of support against the current proposal? This would be perhaps easier than seeking signatures but complement it at the same time.

    • Nick says:

      Great idea, lets do it.

      • Anon says:

        Take a look at change.org. There are 3 things first to be considered.

        (a) Who do you want to petition? An individuals name, organization, or government body needs inputting. So who or which organization will lead to change in listing here MUMPO? Thom Tillis? Is targeting an individual better than an organization?

        (b) What do you want them to do? … “Widen I77 using general purposes lanes and not the proposed toll road based P3 project” .. good enough?

        (c) Why is this important? … explain why someone should support this position. Can we put together a paragraph / list of key bullet points from existing content .e.g.

        - I77 is heavily congested and only the use of GP lanes will ensure immediate positive effects. The proposed P3 project will NOT solve the current problem.

        - Toll roads will reduce the amount of disposable income of residents living in these areas meaning an immediate impact on local businesses. Potentially up to $200 per month costs for a person are feasible and this money will be diverted into the pockets of the private company instead of into local restaurants, shops etc. ..(if not $200 then what is a realistic figure, then how to expand that to show the overall $$ that could be lost to local businesess?)

        - A review of the proposed toll road project shows significant deficiencies in the logic and thought process behind the reasoning of such. There is no solid defense for what is proposed.

        - I77 widening has been belittled too long as a major project for advancement using public funds by various factions. The project priorities and logic behind such need immediate review whereby I77 widening can easily be seen to be a priority of the highest regard.

        … and so on and so forth …

        a working document on the above should first be put together then the petition created online.

  32. Anon says:

    Should the online petition letter to McCrory
    not specifically state no toll road on I77 and not just no toll roads in NC. The goal is to change the plan relative to I77 first not the entire state. Thoughts?

    • Tom Davis says:

      Focus just on stopping the toll roads for the I-77 corridor . They may work in other parts of the State around the I-95 corridor based on high traffic density. Each should be studied independently and allow the Governor to make decisions based on facts and real time data.

  33. delores williams says:

    We the people would like to have our voices heard by the elected official who we have placed in office. Toll lanes are the wrong lanes. Let’s look at alternatives Which not only benefit citizens but also is cost effective to government as well.

  34. Anonymous says:

    http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/04/18/3989671/mccrory-outlines-plan-to-shift.html

    Sounds like Gov McCrory has a plan —- somehow we need to be sure he puts a stop to the HOT nonsense to incorporate I77 into the plan properly.

    I also feel that the “Red” elected leaders (and that includes many yellow that refuse to admit a position) should be voted OUT next time around because they are not part of the solution, therefore they are part of the problem.

  35. Dede Pavlick says:

    I have a question if anyone can help! The mayor of Davidson has claimed that this group is spreading “false information” yet I have not heard exactly what this “false info” is. How are we supposed to refute it being false or not if we have no idea what he is referring to. Anyone know specifically what he is talking about? Thanks!

    • Kurt Naas says:

      Hi Dede- Great question.
      In law school they say when the facts support you, pound the facts. When the law supports you, pound the law. When neither supports you, pound the table.
      Please continue to ask the folks who keep claiming this. We don’t know everything, but we do know this HOT lane plan takes what should be a $100M solution and turns it into a $550M problem that our children and grandchildren will end up paying.

      • Joe Starosciak says:

        Agreed, No North Carolina Citizen should be stuck with a binding contract for 50 years on road improvements that have been down in all other area highways for less money and without imprisoning local citizens with tolls FOR LIFE!!!!

  36. Anonymous says:

    Is it feasible that enough money be raised to put a Billboard sign on I77 before exit 23 with “No to Toll Roads” on it to gain more visibility and talking points? I for one would be willing to put my money where my mouth is to support this cause.

    If Gordy can find love on i77 (for those of you who are aware of the billboard up there a while back for a gentlemen seeking a relationship) … then maybe we can too.

    I have no idea of the cost of a billboard but one month $5k? Less?

    Drastic situations require drastic measures to gain attention.

    • Jay Privette says:

      I did a billboard and found Adams in North Charlotte does essentially all the billboards in the area. Production costs on the highway can run from around $1000 for vinyl to nothing for the lighted billboards (no printing involved), and space costs depend on traffic X time. The lighted billboards are actually less because time is shared with other ads. $5 thousand would likely buy several weeks, but check with Adams before taking my word. Prime locations need to be reserved a couple of months or so in advance.

  37. Anonymous says:

    I485 in south Charlotte is being widen without tolls. Why are those of us in North Meck/Iredell being penalized?

    • Jay Privette says:

      Very Good Question! I can only speculate. I-74 (Independence Boulevard) is also being considered for HOT Lanes. In the case of I-74, HOT lane tolls can be avoided by taking express buses or a proposed streetcar on the parallel Old Monroe Highway. As ridiculous as the idea may be in reality, the HOT Lanes on I-77 could encourage commuters to take the Red Line. From Charlotte’s 2025 Transit Plan, page 24 – Charlotte to serve as the key land use strategy supporting transit to enable more people to ride transit as an alternative to driving. This is an Agenda 21 mandate, and the 14 county alliance called “Connect Our Future”, which includes Mecklenburg, was formed to implement Agenda 21 mandates as conditions of HUD grants. MUMPO has signed onto “Connect our Future”. The Agenda 21 fanatics believe they are doing what is necessary to save the planet; therefore there are no costs too high in their mind to deter them from their mission.

  38. Anonymous says:

    I think this is just going to cause more havoc; especially since Beatties Ford Rd, run from Uptown Charlotte to the Lake Norman area..

  39. Without even getting into bi-partisanship, law, economics, or any other detailed argument, you can use some common observational sense to shoot this idea down: every single day, all day long, on every street/road/avenue/interstate that enters or leaves Charlotte, traffic is bumper to bumper in both directions. And yet they are claiming they don’t pull in enough TAX REVENUE? That this is the reason Charlotte is broke? Clearly, there is plenty of money pouring into Charlotte. The problem is it is being mismanaged on an epic scale. This is the real issue, and nobody is talking about it – when your mayor’s pet project is a $12 million trolley, and for this he earns a promotion from the president, and meanwhile the county is claiming it doesn’t have enough cash to widen the interstate, how is it nobody is publicly connecting the dots here?

    • Jay Privette says:

      Your wrong. The first one and a half mile leg of the trolley is $37 million, now they are trying to figure out how to pay for the second leg which will cost $126 million if it is on budget. If Anthony Foxx has his way the complete trolley system will reach into the billions. Don’t forget the light rail which cost $516 million, and its nine mile extension to the university area is budgeted for $1.16 BILLION. All of these systems put together will carry far fewer commuters than I-77 and will carry zero commerce. It pays to have 16 votes on MUMPO and have annexed yourself to 80% of the population of the county. All is not a bed of roses in Charlotte. Taxes are increasing so children in the poorer neighborhoods will get safe sidewalks. Too bad children had to die and the money was spent to make downtown glisten before the city took notice.

      • Yeah, you are correct. I see the typo now, the figure I was thinking of was just the $126 million. But I’m sure it actually is much more than that. You can look up articles of good ol’ Anthony Foxx talking about a “budget surplus” in justifying the damn trolley. And now he’s the freaking Transportation Secretary? What a joke. It’s Monopoly money to these clowns. Our bumper to bumper grind and tax dollars pumped into the gas tank mean nothing to them. Who cares! Spend it on your own personal pet project! You’re the mayor! Yippee! Now, let’s whine about not having enough tax money to pay for the actual meaningful projects, and set up toll lanes to collect it.

        Mark my words: this city is going to be notorious in case studies 30 years from now about how NOT to manage a burgeoning metropolis.

  40. Anonymous says:

    Are not Commissioner McAulay’s actions not grounds for dismissal? Her actions are a complete abuse of power and are indicative of a person incapable of carrying out her duties as an elected official.

    • Kurt Naas says:

      HI- Sadly, no they are not. MUMPO is accountable to no one. They operate under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Governor’s office. The MOU, signed in 2003, contains no provisions for censure, disciplinary actions or removal from office.

  41. Joe says:

    From the Charlotte Observer yesterday: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/05/28/4069215/free-market-solution-to-congestion.html

    THIS “FREE MARKET” IS NOT FREE!!!

    He paints a very rosy picture. What he DOESN’T tell you is that whoever bids on this deal has NO DOWNSIDE. Why? Because the taxpayers will have to guarantee this deal. Therefore, they can charge whatever tolls they want. The can mismanage it (which is very likely) and they don’t have to worry about getting paid. That’s because us taxpayers will pay for it one way or the other. Of course, with their toll solution, we will end up paying WAY more.

    • Ed Braun says:

      agree! no accountability.

      • Jay Privette says:

        You have to consider the fact the publisher of the Charlotte Observer, Ann Caulkins, is on the board of the Charlotte Center City Partners. That’s the organization that believes it is the job of city government to take money from the suburbs and spend it on toys for the uptown crowd. She knows nothing about the fact things work best when consumers decide how best to spend their money. Charlotte is basically run by Marxists that know better than the ignorant masses, at least in their mind. They know next to nothing about the free market.

        • Ed Braun says:

          I am in Iredell County. we have been kidnapped. our county needs to take action on this.

          • Jay Privette says:

            Go to a summary of Charlotte’s 2025 Transit Plan http://charmeck.org/city/charlotte/cats/planning/Pages/default.aspx published in 1998 when our governor was mayor of Charlotte. You will see Charlotte is the CENTER for five transit corridors. It is suppose to be about choices, but it is not about your choice, It is about building an urban environment for our region. It says nothing about serving the suburbs. Page 24 of the master plan says suburban sprawl or development of open spaces are to be discouraged. Did some of us experience that in the recent property tax revaluation? Just examine where the highest amount of abuse took place. As part of the Certralina Council of Governments, Iredell is an unwitting partner in this scheme which is funded largely by HUD grants. Every time HUD money is taken, the strings attached often aren’t carefully reviewed. Violate the strings, the money has to be returned.

  42. Barbara says:

    We have had a home at exit 33 since 1983. We have seen many changes in that period of time. We have seen the moving of a back up of traffic move from LaSalle street (exit 12) to Huntersville at exit 23. Could we divide the widening into two projects the northern portion beginning where the last project ended and the southern portion adding to the already widened road. Maybe the backups would be far less than they are now if we weren’t trying to put five lanes of traffic into two. Certainly the cost would be less if we only did the northern portion. Until we find a way to widen the causeways, we will have backups.

  43. JAO says:

    Toll Road on I77
    Toll Road on I 485
    Toll Road alongside I74
    None of these are direct routes to Raleigh…coincidence?

  44. Anonymous says:

    In the mean time 77 is only getting worse … We left Charlotte for a year and have now returned to see that 77 north of 485 is now much more of a disaster than when we left!

    We hope that the solution is adding 2+ more free lanes in both directions of 77. Adding one more free or toll lane is not enough – it would not even fix the current situation let alone taking into account the city’s future growth.

    The current proposed next step needs to be bigger than they think. There are already a ton of people who avoid 77 and there are an increasing number of vacationers that use it just to pass through that they are not taking into account. The current situation even at non-rush hour times is dangerous because the entrance ramps do not give people getting onto the congested freeway enough time/space to merge.

    North Charlotte / Lake Norman is a fantastic place to live … We just wish that the freeway through it reflected it as well.

  45. Lynda Paxton says:

    Widen I77 has done an excellent job gathering factual information to support your position. We are dealing with a similar battle in Union County with the Monroe Bypass. Latest documents show it will only save 8-10 minutes in travel time from end to end and costs have risen to over $800 million. DOT has not done appropriate study to learn how much of the existing traffic is local or whether trucks will actually use it. They refuse to terminate the contract with Boggs Paving despite the 29 federal indictments against them for fraud, money laundering and conspiracy. We would appreciate support from your followers by “liking” our new Facebook page.
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fix-It-First-Say-NO-to-the-Pork-Parkway/429866827141908?ref=hl. The link splits because of the length, so paste it in the browser to connect. Thanks for your support. Lynda Paxton, former Mayor of Stallings

    • Anonymous says:

      Good point. It appears many of the Republicans that conservatives swept into office are now preoccupied lining their own pockets and the pockets of their crony capitalist supporters. Now that the Tea Party swept them into office, they want us to go away. I also encourage us to join with those fighting the by-pass in Gastonia. Where is Robert Pittenger in all this?

      • Mark Neroni says:

        This is not a Republican vs Democratic issue. This site was started as a non-partisan effort to get both sides of the aisle to do the right thing. The core group contains both liberals and conservatives. We have common ground in our position that these HOT lanes are a bad answer and a failure of government. Please note that both very liberal (e.g. California) and very conservative (e.g., Texas) states have made the mistake of hiding an additional tax as a toll. If we make this a partisan issue, we all lose.

  46. db says:

    It’s fairly obvious by now that working thru the system ( petiioning our so called representatives ) isn’t getting us anywhere. Whats next? Are founding forefathers would not relent, nor should we. I’m suggesting a rally or march, bill boards, flyers, or anything that will get media attention and strick concern on certain officials running for office.

    • Jay Privette says:

      Your so right. When our founding fathers realized they were wasting their time petitioning King George for their rights as Englishmen, they took the necessary action to get government that represented their interests.

      • Lawanda says:

        – Thanks, really glad you enjoyed the show. I try to show people new stuff they might like, music I think is good. Jamendo is great, no matter what style you prefer you can prlbaboy find it there. Enjoy!

  47. Reed says:

    No one with an IQ of 80 or above would vote in favor of these toll lanes. It takes simple 2nd grade math to know this a scam, only to grease the pockets of Crooked politicians and other influential leaders. I challenge ANY politician and every contractor to show the hard facts of this projects and its REAL costs. They are VERY BOLD: they are NOT only trying to Tax us on tolls, BUT they are also STEALING one of the General Purpose lanes, we tax-payers already paid for and trying to charge us for this work a 2nd time. One of the “toll lanes” is already built & paid for; they will be stealing this away from us; if you carefully read through all the BS language, they have tried to work the language every way they can, to not properly advise of this fact. I have seen it worded & labeled 4 different ways..in an effort to try and confuse the average Joe as to what they are really doing. They are liars and thieves and obviously do not know how to do simple 2nd grade math (and have Never lived in an area which has toll lanes, as otherwise they’d be dead set against it). NOTE: I DO NOT ride down I-77 and will NOT be affected by this project, so the toll cost is NOT what I’m upset over. Its the stealing of the lane we already paid for, the bottle-neck that toll booths create (no matter the quantity they have), under-estimation of what the real toll fares will be, and the CONSTANT increase of these tolls on a “regular” basis over time, the crooked politics and related parties who are in bed with the contractors involved and numerous other aspects is what is wrong with this massive effort; There has been NO other major interstate road project in the whole US that has been FORCED through as quickly as this ridiculous project has… and there are many millions of dollars at stake for a select few, as to “why” this is; It will definitely “KILL” the Lake Norman region and NO ONE will want to move to anywhere close to the toll roads (note: over 65% of the people who live in the Charlotte & Lake Norman area are from cities/states outside NC and who have MOVED to Charlotte area and two of the main reasons they moved here was due to “Traffic” due to toll roads and also due to crooked politicians. They will undoubtedly stop moving here if the toll roads are built. So much for an attractive metro area. I’d rather keep what we have for 10-20 years than rather be scammed like we are now… for the next 50 years, which is the duration of the contract. Can ANYONE show me ANY 50 Year toll road contract, ANYWHERE in the US? The answer is NO. They can’t. The contractors know the lack of intelligence they are dealing with and know they are true idiots who can’t do simple math and this is why they will be screwing the tax-payers as much as they can in the bidding process.

  48. Pierre says:

    The reason that the gas tax is so high is because while North Carolina is the 28th largest state by area, NCDOT maintains the 2nd most highway/road miles in the country, only behind Texas (more than California, Florida, Pennsylvania etc…).

    Toll lanes/roads are not uncommon (if you’ve lived in the North or Atlanta). If you live in some cities in Europe such as London, Milan and Stockholm, they toll you to enter the city center (London charges $8).

    Charlotte really needs to get the light rail line to Huntersville/Davidson up and running in the near future to give commuters an alternative into downtown Charlotte. While widening I-77 with 2 lanes will help out with congestion, the rising population of Charlotte will mean that in a few years we’ll have to keep widening the road (and there are other factors that then come into play like safety and environmental impacts).

    So I guess I wouldn’t support the toll lanes at the moment but I might if there were more alternative modes of transportation such as light rail to encourage people to ditch their cars. Widening I-77 is a nice temporary fix but it’s never going to be enough if the population keeps going up and everyone just drives their own car.

  49. […] Toll Roads – Public-private partnership HOT (high occupancy toll) lanes plan for I-77; tax dollars fund the lane construction, private company (Cintra) profits from the tolls. NC residents already pay gas tax rates that are among the highest in the nation. In 2013 the NCGA increased the annual registration fees of electric vehicle drivers to cover their exclusion from the gas tax. The eventual costs of the HOT lanes plan are incalculable as the toll rates would be subject to the whims of a private corporation unaccountable to the taxpayers of North Carolina. For more information about the HOT lanes scam, see: http://wideni77.org/about/ […]

  50. […] Toll Roads – Public-private partnership HOT (high occupancy toll) lanes plan for I-77; tax dollars fund the lane construction, private company (Cintra) profits from the tolls. NC residents already pay gas tax rates that are among the highest in the nation. In 2013 the NCGA increased the annual registration fees of electric vehicle drivers to cover their exclusion from the gas tax. The eventual costs of the HOT lanes plan are incalculable as the toll rates would be subject to the whims of a private corporation unaccountable to the taxpayers of North Carolina. For more information about the HOT lanes scam, see: http://wideni77.org/about/ […]

  51. c.anastasio says:

    If every tax payer in Mecklenburg and Iredell county paid a one time road tax of approx. 100.00 or 2oo.oo dollars just for this project we would not need a out-sourced company to take advantage of us CASE CLOSED !!!!

  52. Seems crazy to me while the US economy is stnglguirg that they would raise prices for the locals too. Becomes something only the affluent can enter. We spent close $2500+ in Boston last year all to their local economy not race fee, hotel, food, clothes, souvenirs, cabs. I am certain some other beautiful city will price their marathon fairly and then people like us will go and dump a huge amount of money into their city. New York you disappoint me.

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