CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The toll lanes on I-77 are about to get a little more crowded.
I-77 Mobility Partners announced Friday it is leading a three-year pilot program with the North Carolina Department of Transportation that will allow more types of vehicles to use the toll lanes along the interstate from uptown Charlotte to Mooresville.
Starting Monday, Feb. 8, larger two-axle vehicles and vehicles pulling single-axle trailers can begin using the express lanes. These vehicles, which were previously banned from using the toll lanes, will qualify under the new "Extended Vehicles" classification. That includes all vehicles whose length exceeds 22 feet or are pulling a single-axle trailer.
I-77 Mobility Partners said the goal of the program is to allow access to express lanes for businesses and individuals who move goods in larger vehicles, like vans, two-axle box trucks and flatbed trucks. Businesses that rely on using trailers will also have access to the lanes and cut down on drive time.
According to research done by I-77 Mobility Partners in January of 2020, drivers who use the express lanes can cut 19 minutes off their daily commute. The cost of each trip is dependent on how much traffic is in the free lanes. The more traffic there is, the higher the cost to use express lanes.
“I-77 Express has proven its ability to give drivers faster commute times and more time in their day. This new pilot program on I-77 Express will be a gamechanger for many businesses in our area,’’ David Hannon, I-77 Mobility Partners chief operations officer, said. “When a business can move a product or travel to perform a service in a reliable drive time, it makes them more efficient. Efficiency ensures more time for more business, and more business generally equals increased profits.”