Controversial toll road planned to widen I-77

Controversial toll road planned to widen I-77

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by MICHELLE BOUDIN / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @MichelleBoudin

WCNC.com

Posted on January 14, 2013 at 8:10 PM

MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. -- If you drive I-77 in the northern part of Mecklenburg County, you know...

"On a smooth day, it's 25 minutes… When it's crowded, it takes close to an hour," said Cornelius hairstylist Jennifer Zullo. She drives to Charlotte daily and has to deal with the morning rush hour madness.

State transportation officials are working on a plan to widen I-77 from 277 near Uptown to Mooresville, building hot lanes.

Drivers will have to pay to use them, but you're guaranteed to move at least 50 miles per hour.

"I'm a New Jersey native, so I really don't mind that if it’s for the greater good," Zullo added.

But a lot of people think it's an unfair proposition. The newly formed grassroots group, called simply ‘Widen I-77’, is adamantly against building toll roads.

Sharon Hudson is with the group and says, "We checked out what’s happening in other towns and it’s not good.”

We checked in with Atlanta where the city has been using hot lanes on their busy stretch of I-85 for more than a year, and the lanes are still pretty controversial.

Senator Curt Thompson of Norcross, Georgia told our NBC news partner WXIA back in September, "If you think that selling permits is what this is about, that might be successful. But if you're talking about relieving congestion on the 85 corridor, it was a complete failure and a waste of money."

The hot lanes are still just a proposal here in North Carolina, but DOT workers say they hope to begin construction next year, and this may be the best chance at paying for the work.

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