I-485 and U.S. 74 Express Lanes Network
I-485 and U.S. 74 Express Lanes Network
U.S. 74 Express Lanes Public Hearings Held in January 2020
NCDOT and the Turnpike Authority held two public hearings to discuss proposed improvements on U.S. 74 from west of Idlewild Road to I-485 in Matthews. The handout from these hearings is available here.
I-485 Express Lanes Construction is Underway
Construction on the I-485 Express Lanes is underway. Additional information is provided here.
For current information on lane closures and construction updates, please follow us on Twitter @NCDOT_Charlotte.
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
The project will widen and upgrade U.S. 74 with additional general purpose lanes, auxiliary lanes, express lanes in the median, and the replacement of at-grade intersections with interchanges and overpasses. The project will also extend and connect existing parallel collector roads in the corridor. Transit vehicles and emergency responders can use the lanes at any time without paying a toll. In combination with improvements proposed between I-277 and Idlewild Road (U-6103), the project would give motorists the option of paying a toll for a reliable trip time on U.S. 74, between I-277 in Charlotte and I-485 in Matthews. U-2509 is a multifaceted project that includes many improvements in addition to express lanes. Upon project completion, U.S. 74 will have undergone a substantial transformation with major improvements and additions to the general-purpose lanes, removal of signals and at-grade intersections, and the construction of new grade-separated crossing streets and interchanges.
U-2509 includes the completion of several parallel roads that are intended to increase connectivity within town. These roads, which will allow for the separation of through traffic from local traffic and shift access to the back of businesses, include:
- Krefeld Drive Extension (Krefeld Drive to Sardis Road North)
- Arequipa Drive/Northeast Parkway (Margaret Wallace Road to Sam Newell Road)
- Krefeld Drive/Independence Pointe Parkway (Crownpoint Executive Drive to Sam Newell Road)
- Northeast Parkway (Overcash Drive to Matthews-Mint Hill Road)
- Independence Pointe Parkway Alternatives (Windsor Square Drive to Matthews Township Parkway [Options 1, 2, & 3])
- Independence Pointe Parkway (Matthews Township Parkway [NC 51] to Campus Ridge Road)
U-2509 includes an extensive network of bicycle and pedestrian accommodations that has resulted from ongoing coordination with the City of Charlotte, Town of Matthews, and Mecklenburg County. Sidewalks and multi-use paths are shown on meeting maps.
U.S. 74 Corridor Improvements Video
This project will convert existing bus lanes in the median of U.S. 74 to express lanes, one in each direction, from I-277 to west of Idlewild Road, providing a seamless connection with the U-2509 express lanes project to the east.
- Planning and design in progress
- Construction anticipated to begin in 2024
Do you have comments or questions for the U.S. 74 project team? Contact us
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.
- Summer 2019: Began Right-of-Way Acquisition and Construction
- Fall 2019: Recommend Noise Wall Locations
- Winter 2019/2020: Conduct Noise Wall Balloting
- Fall 2021: Third General Purpose Lane between Rea Road and Providence Road anticipated to Open to Traffic
- Fall 2022: New Interchange at Weddington Road and 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 current I-485 Express Lanes project handout, including Construction Schedule Map.
Updated Project Information - Winter 2020
Do you have comments or questions for the I-485 project team? Contact us
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:
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.
RESOURCES FOR PROPERTY OWNERS
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.