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?


Why not?

There has been very little public pressure to do so.

What can I do to help?

A good place to start is by emailing wideni77@hotmail.com.

6 Responses to FAQ

  1. […] the plan. They contend that letting a P3 charge fees for 50 years won’t solve congestion and will cost more than normal lanes. […]

  2. bob joffe says:

    I heard recently that the tolls will be registered with a vehicle using an electronic sensor mounted in a car but it will not use the EZPASS sensor which is widely used on the East Coast. Instead it will use a NC issued sensor which is used only in NC. If this is true, does this mean that people without sensors can not use the toll lanes? Will only residents of NC who have acquired the sensors be allowed to use the toll lanes? (carpooling excluded). If so,this does not seem to be a well conceived plan as it will not be collecting tolls from out of staters driving through, only locals who use the road daily.

  3. Gamecox says:

    I know this is probably already posted somewhere on this website, so pardon me for not finding it but my concern is, “What percentage of the toll will Cintra retain?” The reason for my concern is because years ago we got caught up in a private partnership to issue speeding tickets via speed traps that took pictures of license plates and mailed the citation to the speeder’s home. Later, the system was canned because it was revealed that the private company was retaining 80% of the fines (yes, that’s 80 – as in almost ALL OF IT).

    • Widen I-77 says:

      Under the terms of the contract Cintra keeps all of the toll revenue up to an as-yet specified amount, after which an as-yet specified percentage of the revenue will be shared with NCDOT.

  4. Matt says:

    Has there been any discussion regarding sound walls for this project? Any idea on who would be responsible for paying for them? The additional lanes will add tremendously to the noise pollution many neighborhoods already experience in Huntersville and Cornelius.

    Also does this mean the virtual end of public rail transportation along the corridor?

    How did they find the money to widen I85 without outside help?

  5. […] group of North Carolinians, that’s who, and when it comes to toll roads and segregated “hot” lanes, they want nothing to do with what they characterize as a crony grab enabled by the […]

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