What are HOT Lanes?
HOT Lanes are High Occupancy Toll lanes. Carpoolers meeting minimum occupancy requirements are allowed to use them for free and single occupant vehicles may use them if they pay a toll.
What is the minimum occupancy requirement to use them for free?
The current plan calls for a minimum of three occupants per vehicle.
How will occupancy requirements be enforced?
Vehicle occupancy will be determined through electronic surveillance. A fine/notice-to-appear will be mailed to the registered owner of an offending vehicle.
Will HOT lanes reduce congestion in the general purpose lanes?
No. The Mecklenburg-Union Metropolitan Planning Organization (MUMPO) is on record as saying HOT lanes will have “minimal impact on travel times in the general purpose lanes.”
Who will operate them?
Right now the current plan is to have the HOT lanes built, operated and managed by a private company.
How much is the toll?
Tolls will be determined by the degree of congestion, a practice called “congestion pricing.” The more congestion in the general purpose lanes, the higher the toll.
Is there a limit to how high the toll can go?
No. The private company can charge whatever toll they wish as long as HOT lane traffic moves at 60mph minimum.
Will the tolls be waived in the event an accident is blocking travel lanes?
No. Under the congestion pricing scenario, tolls will be at their highest.
How long will the tolls last?
The current proposals assume a 50 year contract.
What will happen to the tolls over that time period?
With expected increases in traffic as the Lake Norman area continues to grow, the tolls will probably increase continuously.
Will we be able to widen I-77 after the HOT lanes are built?
Doing so would mean fewer commuters would use the HOT lanes, thereby decreasing toll revenues. The private company would then be entitled to reimbursement for any lost toll revenues.
What about widening US 21 or US 115?
The private company would likely seek compensation for any improvement that reduces toll revenue.
Why are we doing this?
HOT lanes have been proposed as a way to bridge current funding gaps.
How much of the funding gap will the tolls cover?
Under the most optimistic scenario, tolls will cover approximately one third of construction costs.
What’s the total funding gap?
The estimated funding gap to widen I-77 with general purpose lanes past exit 28 is approximately $21M.
How much will it cost to build and operate the HOT lanes?
Current estimates are $500 million to build HOT lanes up to Mooresville. Operating costs are estimated at $2M/yr plus a profit for the private company. Therefore, the total cost of HOT lanes will be approximately $750 million.
Is the state or any of the Lake Norman towns considering other funding options?
There has been very little public pressure to do so.
What can I do to help?
A good place to start is by emailing email@example.com.