Myths & Facts

Myth:

There’s no money for general purpose lanes.

Fact:

A hypothetical scoring of a general purpose project under the state’s new Strategic Transportation Initiative scored in the top 10% of all projects, and actually outscored over twenty projects that are currently slated to receive funding.

Myth:

There’s only a 10% cost difference between the HOT lane plan and general purpose lanes.  The HOT lanes are expected to cost $655million, so general purpose lanes would cost $560million.

Fact:
Over one quarter of the HOT lane project cost is for things like toll equipment, overhead and consultants.  A general purpose lane project widening I-77 where it is needed (from ~mm 21 to 36) would cost a little over $100M.  In addition, HOT lanes incur operating costs that typically run in the millions of dollars per year.

Myth:

The taxpayer money is only available because of the HOT lane nature of the project.

Fact:

According the NCDOT, the federal funding allocated for this project “is not required to be spent on HOT lanes. It can be used for general purpose lanes.”  The State of North Carolina, and specifically the NCDOT and our state officials, are insisting on HOT lanes.

Myth:

This is a done deal.

Fact:

It will not be a done deal until the binding contract is signed, funding in place and construction complete.

Myth:

HOT Lanes will manage congestion.  Any lane, even a HOT lane, is better than nothing.

Fact:

HOT Lanes will have “minimal impact to the travel speed in the existing general purpose lanes.”  HOT lanes will only be used when the general purpose lanes are congested.  Therefore, instead of relieving congestion in the general purpose lanes, HOT lanes will ensure it.

Myth:

If we don’t build HOT lanes now we won’t get anything for at least twenty years.

Fact:

The HOT lane discussion- and this excuse- has been going on since 2008.  A general purpose lane project can be ranked under STI as early as July 1, 2015 . With the current scoring, construction could begin within ten years.

Myth:

Only HOT lane users will pay for the lane.

Fact:

Whether or not you use the HOT lanes, we all pay for this project by time spent in traffic, additional fuel costs,  and poor air quality.

Estimates for the required annual revenues range from $15- 30M per year. That money is siphoned directly out of our local economy to a company with no ties to the region.

Myth:

The private company assumes the risk for this project.

Fact:

The taxpayer is contributing $88 million to the project.  In addition, the taxpayer will subsidize any shortfall in revenues for eight years, up to $75 million.

Myth:

HOT lanes are necessary for economic development in the region.

Fact:

The HOT lanes are designed to bring the Lake Norman commuter to uptown Charlotte.  The ingress/egress points are in a state of flux right now, but currently bypass the major commercial exits in the region.  The long term effect of HOT lanes- congestion in the general purpose lanes and bypassing local businesses- will result in customers avoiding our area.  We have already seen a similar situation with the exit 28 disaster in Cornelius, where congestion has severely impacted local businesses.

 

Sources:

1)      TCC Comments to Ellerby and Midkiff, October 4, 2012.

2)      STIP I-3311E

3)      STIP I-5405 HOT

4)      “I-485 could be finished sooner”, Charlotte Observer, August 16, 2008

5)      “Taxpayer subsidy could reach $110 million”, Charlotte Observer, June 12, 2012

6)      Meeting with Bill Coxe, September 20, 2012

7)      Draft Comprehensive Agreement, Dec 18, 2012, Section 19 and Exhibit 15

19 Responses to Myths & Facts

  1. […] any of this from the presentations by consultants and other boards paid to sell the HOT lane plan. https://wideni77.org/myths-facts/   Also note the section on “Elected Officials” We will be keeping track of those […]

  2. […] is a link to the “Myths and Facts” section of our web site, wideni77.org. You will not hear any of this from the presentations by consultants […]

    • jacob sacolick says:

      Currently there are 7 lanes into and out of Charlotte south from/to route 77 exit 19 (four route I77 lanes and 3 route 485). I do not know who designed this, but I thank them for the wonderful design (LOL).

      • jacob sacolick says:

        forgot some of hat i had to say –

        Currently there are 7 lanes into and out of Charlotte south from/to route 77 exit 19 (four route I77 lanes and 3 route 485).

        Into/out of Charlotte North of route 77 exit 19 there are only 2 lanes.

        7 going to 2 lanes and 2 going to 7 lane???

        I do not know who designed this, but I thank them for the wonderful design.

        LOL

  3. E Z says:

    Myth: Widening the road will fix the congestion problem.

    Fact: There is no shortage of hard data. A recent University of California at Berkeley study covering thirty California counties between 1973 and 1990 found that, for every 10 percent increase in roadway capacity, traffic increased 9 percent within four years’ time. For anecdotal evidence, one need only look at commuting patterns in those cities with expensive new highway systems. USA Today published the following report on Atlanta: “For years, Atlanta tried to ward off traffic problems by building more miles of highways per capita than any other urban area except Kansas City…As a result of the area’s sprawl, Atlantans now drive an average of 35 miles a day, more than residents of any other city.”· This phenomenon, which is now well known to those members of the transportation industry who wish to acknowledge it, has come to be called induced traffic.

    Source: “Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream”

    • Kurt Naas says:

      Thank you for your reply. We are aware of the concept of induced demand. However, at some point, a road becomes simply too small. I-77 has never been widened in 40 years and remains the only stretch of four-lane interstate in the county. It is the major transportation artery linking North Carolina’s largest city to an exploding suburb.

      A single additional lane would create 50% more capacity. So, using the study you cited, it would not become re-congested again for at least twenty years!

    • 4 Lanes?!? says:

      The situations are not comparable. I’m not advocating for insane 12 lane highways like Atlanta has. However, a 4 lane highway that hasn’t been expanded since seemingly the beginning of time has resulted in unacceptable commute times for people who are traveling between Charlotte and suburbs to the north. This is easily fixable considering the available space there. The highway is simply too small.

  4. Common cents says:

    So far I’ve not seen any proposal to widen I-77 that would make everyone happy. I’ll admit I’ve not done a lot of research, but toll roads are not as evil as portrayed. The toll roads around Chicago have a windfall of millions that are used for education. The proposed toll project for I-77 does not seem well thought out or researched. I hope in the future I won’t just see reasons not to widen I-77, but viable solutions to a very frustrating issue!

    • Pattie Marshall says:

      To Common Cents: All profits from the HOT lane project on I77 will go to Cintra…a spanish company based in Spain…hello! Profits are estimated at $13 Billion (Billion!!!) to be siphoned out of Lake Norman for 50 years and sent overseas to Spain. This is just one of many reasons why this project will not work for us here in Lake Norman.

  5. Wake Up says:

    Ok has anyone asked the DOT why this project that was 90th on the list in the state of NC became a priority ? Why did the other 89 DOT projects in the whole state got passed by -FOLLOW THE MONEY! Has anyone asked what the EPA data is on this stretch when the building occurs and the gridlock occurs. I bet there is no study just black soot and dirt all over the peoples backyards who live close to Interstate – FOLLOW THE MONEY!
    FACT – I wonder what officials are going to get handed free passes on the toll lanes- FOLLOW THE MONEY.
    Question- If the state does own the the toll road who will patrol it ?

  6. eric says:

    Why don’t you people find something that matters to fight about? Who gives a crap about a lane on a highway. If you don’t want it don’t use it. If you want a toll free lane pay for it instead of tying up state and local resources who be be doing other things instead of spending money on whinny freaking people. Give it a break.

    • Anonymous says:

      You mean why don’t we find something that matters TO YOU! Seems to me you’re the one doing the whining by trolling a site whose cause is known and you obviously do not support.

      Now go on back to your video game and cookies, please, and let the adults do what they need to do.

  7. Earl Capps says:

    I wish I knew what you were smoking here. My last employer was a highway construction company and when we did a three-mile widening of an urban interstate, adding one lane in both direction for just under three miles cost $70 million (project completed in 2012). And if you think a single lane is all that will be needed, think again. It wasn’t that long ago that one lane was added. Another will be needed soon and it will be more cost-effective to do it now. However, if you and many thousands of others would simply move away and stop moving into that area, we could save the entire cost because the project wouldn’t be necessary at all. Move to Ohio or somewhere.

    • Widen I-77 says:

      Hello Earl-
      Our $100M comes from a Parsons Brinkerhoff study and was independently corroborated by NCDOT’s own analysis. Construction costs vary based on topography and roght of way acquisition costs. In I77 LKN’s case, those costs are minimal. We don’t understand your “one lane was just added” statement as the road through LKN has never been widened since it was built in the 1970’s.

  8. mooresville mike says:

    The worst part appears to be according to Roadway Conceptual Drawings is that the current HOV +2 lane will be used as part of the HOT lane project if I’m reading the plans right. Which means we already paid for part of this toll lane with tax payer money and a free lane will now be a pay for use lane. http://www.ncdot.gov/projects/I-77ExpressLanes/download/Roadway_Conceptual_Drawings.pdf

  9. I hope proponents start to understand that it is NOT capitalism, but in fact a government induced free-market distortion, with an incentive to promote congestion! It’s crazy how people will write about this stuff without really looking at it.

  10. Raul Sanchez says:

    MYTH: I 77 will widen

    FACT: I-77 has not seen any widening on Lake Norman, the Yadkin Valley, the Statesville community. I already saw that I-85 has been widened to 8 lanes between Concord Mills, NC 73, Exit 68, Julian Road and Long Ferry Road as well in Greensboro, Burlington, and the Triangle as well in Charlotte.

  11. Jammie Bachand says:

    Timely suggestions ! I Appreciate the facts . Does someone know where my business could possibly get a fillable a form copy to fill in ?

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