Contract delay won’t affect I-77 toll lanes
by Staff Writer
Not awarding it this fall as planned won’t affect the project’s overall timeline, spokeswoman Greer Beaty said, noting that parts could open in 2016.
The NCDOT has narrowed its choice to four teams of contractors it believes has the right combination of expertise to deliver a quality product, Beaty said. Teams indicated that it would be more efficient to finish some of the environmental documents first, so they would be able to offer more precise bids, she said.
“If you know more about the environmental issues are and the required mitigation is, you can put together a better proposal,” Huntersville Transportation Director Bill Coxe said.
The project would add a toll lane in each direction along the median of I-77, from Exit 28 in Cornelius to Exit 36 in Mooresville. Vehicles with at least three passengers could use the lanes for free. Others would pay a fee that fluctuates based on traffic volume.
Toll lanes will help relieve congestion along the interstate, but it won’t fix the problem, Coxe said. Once toll lanes are added, Coxe doesn’t want I-77 to be neglected for another 20 years.
Lake Norman leaders must continue working with the state, he said, to ensure that the toll lane project will allow for the flexibility to pursue other transportation projects in the corridor – without making them more difficult or expensive.
Diverging diamond falls short of funding
Mooresville’s attempts to tap into a pot of state transportation money for a diverging diamond interchange at Exit 36 proved unsuccessful this year, according to transportation planner Neil Burke.
The interchange would reduce congestion at N.C. 150 by allowing both directions of traffic to cross to the left side of the road over I-77, allowing cars to turn left without stopping.
The town sought money from North Carolina’s Mobility Fund, which is designated for road projects that demonstrate a regional or statewide benefit. The request earned endorsements from the Iredell County, as well as planning groups based in Lake Norman and Hickory. The state denied the request.
“We are in discussions with NCDOT about other funding sources,” Burke said. “I would like to think that could be an improvement that could be on the ground for the next five years, but the town and NCDOT need to come to an agreement on where the funding is coming from.”