MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. -- A 26-mile stretch of I-77 from Charlotte to Mooresville is receiving numerous complaints.

It’s large in part because of what the North Carolina Department of Transportation calls “ghost lanes.”

“It’s just crazy because you think you’re in a lane and suddenly you’re not really sure because there’s sort of a faded paint,” Brian Long explained.

The work zone along I-77, as many know, is part of a widening project to add toll lanes.

According to the NCDOT more than 180,000 drivers take it into charlotte each day, with the number of lanes shifting from five to two in each direction.

It’s a work zone complicated by what many say is a confusing paint job.

“More signs would be helpful. It’s a little confusing. There’s a lot of newer paint over older paint,” says Zach, a driver.

In fact, a new report from NCDOT shows crashes have “increased significantly” since work began, mostly in the form of rear ends and side swipes.

In response, state engineers drove the stretch during on and off peak hours and recommended the installation of more signs, raised pavement markings, and removal of signs deemed unnecessary.

But more than anything they’re urging drivers to put the brakes on distracted driving.

“This is a safe work zone. This is a safe area for folks to drive. But we need the help of the public in keeping it that way by following tips and not driving distracted, not using a cell phone, not texting, not trying to take photos or videos while driving,” said NCDOT Spokeswoman Jen Thompson.

But many drivers said safety on I-77 starts with the state.

“They’re in charge of the road and they’re in charge of the paint, so certainly the driver has to be responsible but you can only follow what they’ve laid down. And if they’ve laid down something improperly it makes it hard not to get into accidents and there seems to be quite a few up there,” said Long.

NCDOT said all recommendations will be implemented within the next month.