I-485 and U.S. 74 Express Lanes Network

I-485 and U.S. 74 Express Lanes Network





I-485 Express Lanes Construction Set to Begin

Construction on the I-485 Express Lanes is scheduled to begin in Summer 2019. Additional Information is provided here.


I-485 Express Lanes Open House Held June 27, 2019

A public open house was held on June 27, 2019 at Endhaven Elementary School to provide updates on the project design and construction schedule. Maps and handouts from the meeting are available here.


U.S. 74 Express Lanes Public Open Houses to be Held on August 14 & 15

Planning and design efforts are currently underway for the U.S. 74 Express Lanes Projects. Two public open houses are scheduled for August 14 and 15. Details are provided below.

August 14, 2019

Central Piedmont Community College, Levine Campus

2800 Campus Ridge Rd, Matthews, NC 28105

4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.


August 15, 2019

Eastway Middle School (Gymnasium)

1501 Norland Rd, Charlotte, NC 28205

4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m



Charlotte is growing.  Over the past 25 years, the Charlotte area population has increased by 100 percent (from 688,000 to 1.4 million) and more than 500,000 more residents are anticipated over the next 20 years. In 2018 alone, there was over $1 billion in capital investment in the region. One result of this growth is increased traffic congestion.

To help alleviate congestion, at the request of the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization (CRTPO), the North Carolina Turnpike Authority (NCTA) is implementing a network of express lanes in the Charlotte region.

The first toll project in the region was the Monroe Expressway, which opened on November 27, 2018 after three years of construction and many years of planning and collaboration. For more information: Monroe Expressway


Charlotte Regional Express Lanes Video (Click to View)


Do you have comments or questions for the project team? Contact us


I-485 Express Lanes (I-5507)

The I-485 Express Lanes project will add one express lane in each direction along I-485 between I-77 and U.S. 74 (Independence Boulevard), providing travel time reliability and improving traffic flows in this critical transportation corridor.  The project will also add one general purpose lane in each direction along I-485 between Rea Road and Providence Road.  In coordination with other projects in southern Mecklenburg County, this project will serve as part of a larger network of express lanes offering drivers the option of more reliable travel times. 

To minimize the duration of construction along the project corridor, three other projects will be constructed at the same time as the
I-485 Express Lanes – the Ballantyne Commons Parkway bridge widening, new interchange at Weddington Road, and John Street interchange improvements. 


Construction Timeline*

  • Summer 2019: Begin Right-of-Way Acquisition and Construction
  • Fall 2019: Recommend Noise Wall Locations
  • Winter 2019/2020: Conduct Noise Wall Balloting
  • Summer 2021: New Interchange at Weddington Road Anticipated to Open to Traffic
  • Fall 2021: Third General Purpose Lane between Rea Road and Providence Road anticipated to Open to Traffic
  • Fall 2022: I-485 Express Lanes between I-77 and I-485 Anticipated to Open to Traffic

*Dates are Subject to Change

Click here to view the I-485 Express Lanes Construction Schedule Map


I-485 Express Lanes Video (Click to View)


June 2019 Pre-Construction Open House Materials

I-485 Express Lanes Pre-Construction Open House Maps
I-485 and U.S. 74 Express Lanes Network and Frequently Asked Questions
I-485 Express Lanes Handout 
I-485 Express Lanes Noise Studies Information
Future Charlotte Regional Express Lanes Board
I-485 Express Lanes Construction Schedule Board
Proposed Express Lane Access Point Rendering Board
Proposed Express Lane Access Points and Typical Sections Board
Elm Lane at I-485 Typical Section Board
Weddington Road at I-485 Typical Section Board
Proposed Westinghouse Boulevard and Johnston Road Direct Connectors Rendering Board

I-485 Express Lanes Categorical Exclusion Report

U.S. 74 Express Lanes from I-277 to Idlewild Road (U-6103)

This project will add one express lane in each direction on U.S. 74 between I-277 and Idlewild Road.


Current Status

 - Planning and design in progress
 - Construction anticipated to begin in 2024

U.S. 74 Express Lanes from Idlewild Road to I-485 (U-2509) 

This project will widen U.S. 74 (Independence Boulevard) to six general- purpose lanes - three in each direction - between Idlewild Road and I-485. Because access along U.S. 74 would be altered and all traffic signals removed, interchanges or grade separated crossings would be constructed at major intersecting roads. One express lane in each direction would be constructed in the median of U.S. 74 as part of the project. The project is also expected to include short roadway connections that would link roads running parallel to U.S. 74 at several locations within the project corridor. In combination with improvements proposed between I-277 and Idlewild Road (U-6103), this proposed project would give motorists the option of paying a fee for a reliable trip time on U.S. 74 between I-277 in Charlotte and I-485 in Matthews.


Current Status

 - Environmental studies and preliminary design in progress
 - Public Meeting anticipated in Fall 2019
 - Construction expected to begin in 2024



Enter your email if you'd like to receive updates on this project:


Over the past 25 years, the Charlotte area population has increased by 100 percent (from 688,000 to 1.4 million) with another 500,000 expected to move here over the next 20 years. In 2018 alone, capital investment reached over $1 billion. One result of this growth is increased traffic congestion. 

In order to help address this issue, in 2007, the Charlotte Department of Transportation  partnered with the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT), Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization (CRTPO), and other local and regional agencies to initiate the Fast Lanes Study.

The Fast Lanes Study examined existing and planned major highways throughout a 10-county area and identified corridors that could benefit the most from implementing express lanes to help manage congestion during peak travel periods. The initial findings supported additional study of I-485 and U.S. 74. 

After further evaluation, express lanes projects on I-485, U.S. 74 and I-77 South were added to CRTPO's 2040 Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP), which was adopted in April 2014. In June 2015, NCDOT released the 2016-2025 State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), identifying funding for these express lanes projects creating the first express lanes network in the state. This led the North Carolina Turnpike Authority (NCTA) to initiate implementation of these projects.



More information regarding these projects is available on the project websites:

I-5507: www.ncdot.gov/projects/i-485-express-lanes​

U-2509: www.ncdot.gov/projects/us-74-express-lanes​



Q: What are express lanes?

A: Express lanes are toll lanes built within an existing highway corridor. They provide additional capacity to accommodate more traffic and offer drivers the option of more reliable travel times. Unlike traditional toll roads, drivers can choose to pay the toll and use the express lanes or continue to drive in the existing non-tolled general purpose lanes.


Q: Why express lanes?

A: In growing urban areas such as Charlotte, additional non-tolled general purpose lanes are shown to only temporarily relieve congestion, especially during rush hour traffic. As growth continues, more vehicles fill up the same major commuting routes, which leads to congestion. Variable toll pricing ensures that express lanes are not overwhelmed, so traffic flows freely. When time matters most, express lanes are available to get drivers to their destinations at more reliable, predictable times.


Q: How much will I pay to use the express lanes?

A: The cost of using the express lanes is variable, meaning it will change depending on the demand for the express lanes at a given time of day. If more drivers want to use the lanes, the toll will be higher. If fewer drivers want to use the lanes, the toll will be lower. Toll rates will be posted on highly visible signage so drivers can decide if the toll is worth paying before entering the lanes. Once in the lanes, drivers pay the toll amount posted when they entered the express lanes for the duration of that trip, even if the toll changes while in the lanes. 


Q: How is the price determined?

A: The tolls will be based on how many drivers choose to avoid the congestion in general purpose lanes at any given time. When the number of vehicles in the express lanes is low, the toll is lower. As the number of vehicles in the express lanes increases, the toll rises to prevent the lanes from being overwhelmed with congestion. The toll rate fluctuates throughout the day to provide travel time reliability for drivers who choose to use them.


Q: Who can use the express lanes for free?

A: Transit vehicles, emergency responders, motorcycles and other registered vehicles will be able to use the lanes for free.


Q: How can I access the express lanes?

A: Drivers will be able to access the express lanes using multiple access points and direct connectors. Access points are locations where vehicles can enter and exit the express lanes through openings in the separation between the general purpose lanes and express lanes. They will be designed to allow adequate time for vehicles to safely maneuver in and out of the express lanes. Direct connectors are exit and entrance ramps directly connecting express lanes and cross streets.


Q: Do I have to use express lanes?

A: No, the express lanes are an option for drivers who want a more reliable travel time. Drivers can decide if the time they will save traveling in the express lanes is worth the toll they will pay to use them. Drivers will still have the option to remain in the existing non-tolled general purpose lanes.


Q: How do I pay tolls?

A: The express lanes feature All-Electronic Tolling, or AET, meaning tolls are captured electronically at highway speeds so you never have to stop to pay a toll. If you decide to take advantage of the travel time reliability that express lanes offer, you have several options to pay:

  • The first option is to sign up for a free NC Quick Pass transponder (www.ncquickpass.com). The use of NC Quick Pass allows for a discounted rate on North Carolina toll roads and automatically deducts the toll from your prepaid account. NC Quick Pass also sells a transponder that works with toll facilities in Florida (SunPass), Georgia (Peach Pass) and all states that use E-ZPass. 

  • A second option is Bill by Mail, which allows drivers without an NC Quick Pass to use the express lanes. Overhead toll equipment will capture a picture of the vehicle’s license plate, and an invoice will be mailed to the registered owner’s address on file with the Department of Motor Vehicles. After the first mailed invoice, customers can opt-in to receive future invoices by email through the Bill by Email option. 

  • Drivers can also pay in person at a customer service center.
    Charlotte Service Center: 8015 W. W.T. Harris Blvd. Charlotte, NC 28216
    Monroe Service Center: 3034 Winston Ave. Monroe, NC 28110.


Q: Who will own, develop, manage and operate the I-485 and U.S. 74 express lanes?

A: The State of North Carolina will own the I-485 and U.S. 74 express lanes. NCTA and NCDOT are in charge of the planning, construction, operation and maintenance of the express lanes. Toll accounts are administered by the NC Quick Pass Program.




Carly Olexik

Communications Manager
NC Turnpike Authority
[email protected]


Although the N.C. Department of Transportation works to minimize the number of homes and businesses displaced by a road project, it is inevitable, in many cases, that a certain amount of private property is needed. The following information explains right of way acquisition and answers questions about the process.  


Relocation Assistance Brochure                                                Asistencia para Reubicación      
Right-of-Way Acquisition Process Brochure                            Folleto del Proceso de Adquisición de Bienes Raíces
Right-of-Way Frequently Asked Questions