I-77 Express Lanes FAQs

I-77 Express Lanes FAQs

I have been to a few information sessions on the I-77 Express Lanes recently, and like them or hate them, the I-77 Express Lanes are going to be opened soon.

There are a lot of rumors out there, and here are the answers to the most Frequently Asked Questions on the toll roads from I77Express…

Project Overview

..What is I-77 Express and how do the express lanes work?
The express lanes are dedicated travel lanes that will run adjacent to the existing general purpose lanes that you already use on I-77. By converting the current High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes to express lanes, more vehicles can travel more quickly through the north corridor. During each trip, motorists will be able to decide if they want to use the optional tolled express lanes, the free general purpose lanes or a combination of both to allow for a more efficient commute.
In addition, the express lanes will feature variable prices that fluctuate based on supply and demand to ensure a predictable, higher-speed commute and allow traffic to flow at a minimum of 45 mph during peak travel times. Transit vehicles, motorcycles, emergency vehicles and identifiable high occupancy vehicles with three or more people may use the lanes free of charge with the North Carolina Turnpike Authority’s NC Quick Pass.
..How do users benefit from using these lanes?
All drivers will benefit from I-77 Express. The express lanes provide users with an undeniable choice to access a reliable travel alternative based on their daily schedules and needs. Drivers choosing not to utilize the express lanes will also experience traffic congestion relief because of the new capacity added to the roadway.
..Are all of the lanes on I-77 converting to toll lanes?
No. The existing free lanes (aka General Purpose Lanes – GPL) running in each direction are being upgraded, and they will continue to remain free. I-77 Express consists of additional lanes built in the middle of I-77, which will be adjacent to the free GPLs.
..Will I have to pay a toll to drive on I-77?
No. You can choose to pay for a quicker, congestion-free drive on the express lanes and take advantage of the projected minimum 48 mph travel speed. Or drive at no cost on the existing, upgraded general purpose lanes that are adjacent to the express lanes.
..What are toll segments and how many will I-77 Express have?
The express lanes will have a total of 11 entry and exit points along the 26-mile corridor.  Toll charges are applied when the driver enters each tolling segment.  For a look at the different entry and exit points, click HERE.
..How long is each toll segment?
Toll segments will vary in length from the shortest segment being approximately one mile, between Sam Furr and Catawba Avenue, to the longest segment running for approximately five miles, between Sunset Road and Gilead Road.
..Who is building I-77 Express?
I-77 Mobility Partners, LLC will finance, develop, design, construct, operate and maintain the 26-mile I-77 Express Lanes Project as part of a public-private partnership with the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
..Who is responsible for operating and maintaining I-77 Express?
In addition to the tolled express lanes, I-77 Mobility Partners will be responsible for operations and maintenance of the general purpose lanes and bridges within the project’s limits.
..Will the tolls primarily be used to maintain the express lanes?
No. All drivers who use the I-77 Express corridor will benefit from the toll lanes. Tolls collected for the express lanes will also be used for the operations of the non-tolled general purpose lanes and bridges, to ensure all I-77 Express drivers enjoy a smooth drive, no matter which lane they choose for their trips. Plus, all drivers within the I-77 Express corridor limits will have access to complimentary 24/7 roadside assistance.
..When will I-77 Express be complete?
The northern section of I-77 Express, from just north of Hambright Road to exit 36 in Mooresville is scheduled to open within the first quarter of 2019, with the entire 26 miles currently slated to open in summer 2019.

Public-Private Partnerships (P3)

..What is a public-private partnership?
A public-private partnership (P3) is a contractual agreement formed between a public agency and a private sector entity that allows for greater private sector participation in the delivery and financing of transportation projects, according to the Federal Highway Administration.
..Why is a private developer involved with I-77 Express?
Developing this project through a public-private partnership transfers the risk of future usage of the lanes to the private sector so that if the roadway underperforms, the public is protected. The public-private partnership model also takes full advantage of the innovation and efficiency of private enterprise to reduce the use of tax dollars. Furthermore, the public-private partnership model sets an incentive for customer service: the private developer will only be successful in the long term if the project provides a safe, reliable and valuable service to the community at a reasonable price.
..Who owns I-77 and I-77 Express?
The state of North Carolina. Throughout the entire duration of the Comprehensive Agreement with I-77 Mobility Partners, LLC, the state of North Carolina through the North Carolina Department of Transportation will have full ownership of the project.
..What assurances are in place to protect the state of North Carolina, taxpayers and local communities?
There are numerous safeguards built into the partnering agreements that eliminate risk to North Carolina and ensure that the state, taxpayers and local communities will always be protected as they continue to benefit from I-77 Express.

General Purpose Lanes vs. Express Lanes

..What are the advantages to drivers using express lanes versus the general purpose lanes?
Express lanes are designed for drivers who want the most reliable and time-saving trip to reach a destination such as work, home, a sporting event, or the airport. With traffic flowing at a minimum of 45 mph or higher 24/7, even during rush-hour periods, you can anticipate less frustration and no stop-and-go driving.
..How close will the express lanes be to the toll-free general purpose lanes?
Express lanes are adjacent to the general purpose lanes, but they have independent entrances and exits. Express lanes are both safe and easy to use.
..What separates the express lanes from the general purpose lanes?
Traffic delineator posts separate the express lanes from the adjacent general purpose lanes.

Using the Express Lanes

..Do I have to use the express lanes?
The express lanes are an option for drivers who want more reliable travel times. Motorists can determine for themselves if the time that they will save traveling on the express lanes is worth the toll that they will pay to use them. Each driver can choose the combination of express lane and general purpose lane travel that is the best option for his or her trip.
..What types of vehicles can use I-77 Express?
The express lanes are open to all types of vehicles with two axles. This includes passenger vehicles, SUVs, motorcycles, pickup trucks and vans. Vehicles with three axles or more, such as large trucks and tractors with trailers, may not use I-77 Express.
..How will tractor-trailers benefit from I-77 Express?
The non-tolled general purpose lanes could see relief as passenger vehicles choose to move to the express lanes. Other recently completed projects have seen 10 mph improvements in average speed in the non-tolled lanes. Additional relief will come as projects across North Carolina offer multiple corridors for tractor-trailers that use I-77 to get from South Carolina to Virginia.
..How do I pay to use I-77 Express?
NC Quick Pass is the North Carolina Turnpike Authority’s all-electronic toll collection program that offers drivers two ways to pay for tolls: a pre-paid transponder account or the post-paid Bill by Mail program. Learn more about NC Quick Pass here.
..How will drivers access I-77 Express?
The merge lanes and ramps are designed with safety in mind, providing plenty of room for drivers to enter and exit the express lanes using at least six designated points.
..Will the toll rates change as I go through the toll segments?
Toll rates will fluctuate periodically based on the level of traffic in order to ensure that express lanes drivers travel at faster, more predictable rates of speed. As traffic levels and demand increase, the toll rate increases to keep vehicles moving. Once traffic volumes drop, the price goes down. Well in advance of each additional toll segment, a sign will display the price for further travel. Drivers can choose to continue in the express lanes and pay the toll fee for the next segment, or exit the lanes at no extra cost. It is important to note that every user will only pay the toll amount shown at the entry point even if the rate increases during the trip.
..How will I-77 Express operate during an emergency?
In the event of an emergency evacuation as declared by the governor, the new express lanes will add greater capacity to the I-77 corridor so that citizens can leave the area safely and quickly. During an emergency, NCDOT can suspend tolling immediately, independent of the timing of a formal emergency declaration. Emergency vehicles have unimpeded access to the express lanes at all times.
..Will I-77 Mobility Partners have access to private information collected from express lanes users?
All customer information will be collected, stored and kept secure by the North Carolina Turnpike Authority (which operates under NCDOT). Drivers who choose to set up a NC Quick Pass account will do so using the same application currently used by existing NC Quick Pass customers. No social security numbers, medical information or birth dates will be collected by the North Carolina Turnpike Authority, NCDOT or I-77 Mobility Partners.

Entrances and Exits

..What are the entrance and exit points for I-77 Express?
The express lanes are divided into toll segments with eleven dedicated entrance and exit points and two direct connector ramps to safely guide you into and out of the lanes.
First, view the I-77 Express map by clicking HERE to determine which entrance and exit are best suited to help you reach your destination.
..What are direct connector ramps and where are they located?
The express lanes feature two direct connector ramps from existing roads. One direct connector ramp can be accessed from Hambright Road, located between exits 19 and 23. The other direct connector ramp is located on Lakeview Road, between exits 16 and 18.
..How do I enter and exit the express lanes?
Once you choose to use the express lanes, dedicated entry points and signage will guide you directly into the lanes. When you choose to exit the lanes, dedicated exit points and signage will guide you out of the lanes and onto the general purpose lanes or direct connector ramps.

Toll Collection and Tollbooths

..Are there tollbooths along I-77 Express?
No. The express lanes are all-electronic and cashless. For customers with a NC Quick Pass account, tolls are automatically deducted from your pre-paid account. If you do not have a transponder, cameras will capture an image of your vehicle’s license plate. NC Quick Pass will mail a bill to the vehicle’s registered owner through the Bill by Mail program.

Understanding the Signs
..Are the express lanes entrances clearly marked on highway signs?
Yes. Entrances are clearly marked by overhead signs with the term ‘Express’ lanes signs to avoid confusion. Also, prior to the entrance ramps, are signs that provide advance notice of the current toll prices to give drivers time to make a choice.
..Are the prices easy to read and understand on highway signs?
Yes. Each express lanes highway sign will show the current pricing for a specific segment in advance of the entrance point for that particular segment. Identifiable HOV3+ vehicles with an NC Quick Pass can use the express lanes for free.


..How are prices calculated?
Unlike the Triangle Expressway in Raleigh, which uses a fixed “rate per-toll zone” toll collection system, I-77 Express uses variable congestion-management pricing. Prices on the express lanes fluctuate based upon the supply and demand for the express lanes.

Roadside equipment will monitor real-time I-77 traffic conditions to adjust the prices periodically throughout the day based upon the average speed and number of drivers who want to use the express lanes. Prices may go up or down, depending upon the amount of traffic and the time of day, but drivers are notified of the price they will pay on the toll pricing signs prior to entering any segment of the express lanes. Prices will be lower during non-peak driving times.

..How much will I pay to use the express lanes?
During the initial months following the opening of I-77 Express, prices will be based on a fixed time-of-day schedule, no matter the time of day or the driver demand. These rates will also be published on this website.
After the initial evaluation period, demand-based, dynamic pricing will be implemented and the rate will fluctuate based on a number of factors, including congestion levels in each lane and/or the time of day. In the event that the average speed on the express lanes approaches 45 mph due to traffic congestion, the price for that segment of the roadway will increase in order to maintain travel at an average of 45 mph or faster.
..Is vehicle pricing based on axle counts?
Yes, pricing is based on one and two axles. Vehicles that are three axles or larger, such as tractor-trailers or semi-trucks, are prohibited from using the express lanes.
..How will I know what the toll price is so that I can decide to use the express lanes?
Prices will be clearly displayed on overhead signs in advance of each express lanes entrance and new toll segment. You will see separate prices for single occupancy vehicles with a NC Quick Pass and Bill by Mail rates on all signs. The cost displayed is for each individual toll segment and not a collective price for the remaining segments.
..When will the toll rates be released?
Rates will be released before I-77 Express opens. A public hearing to discuss toll rates and how to use the toll lanes prior to the first day of operations is scheduled for Sept. 13 at 6:30 p.m. in Huntersville United Methodist Church’s worship center. I-77 Express uses congestion-management pricing to help manage traffic flow and provide faster, safer and more predictable travel for drivers who choose to use the lanes. Toll rates will fluctuate periodically based on the level of traffic in order to ensure that express lanes drivers travel at faster, more predictable rates of speed. As traffic levels and demand increase, the toll price increases to keep vehicles moving. Once traffic volumes drop, the price goes down. Vehicles with three or more occupants and public transit buses can use the express lanes at no charge with the use of a transponder.
..What toll price do I pay if the rate changes immediately after I enter the express lanes?
You pay the rate that is displayed on the pricing sign as you enter the express lanes or a new toll segment, regardless of whether the rate changes while you are driving within a toll segment.
..What prevents the company managing the express lanes from charging whatever they want?
There is no incentive for the private operator to set rates at prohibitively high levels because that would deter drivers from using the lanes. Toll rates will be determined by demand in order to maintain reliable travel.

HOV3+ Travel
..Will the I-77 project feature designated HOV lanes?
No. The existing HOV lanes are being converted into the tolled express lanes. However, HOV3+ drivers qualify for toll-free travel under certain conditions.
..How do HOV3+ drivers (carpool, vanpool and motorcycle drivers) qualify for toll-free use of the express lanes?
All identifiable High Occupancy Vehicles (HOV3+) vehicles with a HOV3+ NC Quick Pass transponder and at least three occupants are entitled to use the express lanes for free. Although motorcycles do not require a passenger, they must have a properly-mounted NC Quick Pass attached to the bike in order to use the express lanes for free.

Roadside Assistance

..What if my car stalls or has a flat tire on the express lanes?
If possible, safely maneuver your vehicle out of the moving traffic and onto the shoulder. Turn on your vehicle’s hazard lights and phone 1-855-477-2018 for I-77 Express’ complimentary roadside assistance. For your safety, we recommend that you remain in your vehicle at all times.
We have dedicated service vehicles staffed by friendly, professional crew members 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to help you with any roadside emergencies.
..What number do I call for express lanes roadside assistance?
Call 1-855-477-2018 for complimentary I-77 Express roadside assistance such as changing a flat tire, jumping a dead battery or reporting a road hazard on the general purpose lanes, tolled express lanes or bridges. If you are in a traffic accident, please contact 911.

Toll and HOV Enforcement

..How are tolls collected? Who collects the tolls?
Tolls will be enforced by state and local laws allowing the North Carolina Turnpike Authority to collect from drivers using the express lanes.