AASHTO Journal, 18 April 2014
North Carolina Department of Transportation officials recently announced that, pending a final review, it will partner with a private company to deliver much-need congestion relief on a busy stretch of Interstate 77 in the Charlotte area.
Following a bidding process, NCDOT has chosen Cintra to construct the estimated $655 million I-77 managed lanes project that will give drivers on that interstate stretch additional travel options and improve traffic flow. Specifically, the project will add capacity along 26 miles of I-77, from the Brookshire Freeway exit in Charlotte to the N.C. 150 exit in Iredell County. This will be done by converting the current High-Occupancy Vehicle lanes and adding additional capacity. Additionally, the project includes a flyover bridge to give direct access from the managed lanes on I-77 to I-277. Some lanes on southbound I-77 will also be widened. The project does not include any changes to the general purpose lanes.
NCDOT officials say the project will not only increase capacity and allow for better traffic flow, but also improve travel time reliability and improve air quality.
“We are excited to take this significant step forward and address a critical need,” said NCDOT Chief Engineer Mike Holder in a statement. “Innovative funding solutions like this one are vital to keep up with growth and infrastructure needed to strengthen the economy despite declining transportation revenue from traditional sources.”
Through the deal between Cintra and NCDOT, Cintra will pay for a majority of the project costs, receiving toll revenue in return from the managed lanes. NCDOT expects to pay $88 million, less than the original estimate of $170 million.
NCDOT officials say the deal with Cintra on the I-77 project should be signed in June. Project construction could begin at the end of the year, while completion is expected in 2018.
Additional information on the I-77 managed lanes in Charlotte is available here.