CORNELIUS, N.C. -- A standing room only crowd turned out to hear from a new citizen's group called “Widen I-77”.
The group favors the state's plan to widen I-77 from Lake Norman down to Charlotte. They want it done without putting in high occupancy toll lanes where drivers would have to pay to avoid congestion.
The spokesperson for Widen I-77, Kurt Naas, said the toll lanes would be a waste of money and unfair to Lake Norman residents.
"The only time people are going to use the HOT lanes is when there is congestion in the general purpose lanes. In the Charlotte area there is no congestion so nobody is going to pay the toll," said Naas.
While some residents favor the project even with the tolls, many other say feel it would be unfair.
"I do feel like with the taxes we do pay, they should be able to improve the roads and do what they need with our taxes instead of using toll lanes," said driver William Anderson.
Another driver, Michael Oldson, agreed. "We already pay so much in taxes for the roads already, it makes me mad that everyone else is getting wider roads in the state and we are going to have to pay to be on a lane. I personally don't think that is fair."
There will be no need to build toll plazas. Drivers would purchase electronic devices for their cars and the toll would be deducted each time the car crossed an electronic sensor.
In Atlanta, toll lanes have been in place for about a year and the verdict on their success is mixed.
Tolls fluctuate and cost more where there is more traffic and congestion.
State Department Of Transportation officials were in the crowd at the meeting in Cornelius.
District Engineer Louis Mitchell said that while no final decision is set in stone, toll roads are going to likely be a part of the future.
"It is not a situation where we have a double taxation because we do have a need for resources to make the needed improvements for this corridor," said Mitchell.