April 4, 2018 3:00 PM, EDT

More Toll Lanes Could Be Coming to North Carolina

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A $551 million project to add toll lanes on Interstate 77 in North Carolina from the South Carolina line to the Belk Freeway is among 77 statewide transportation projects being considered for future funding, the state’s department of transportation said.

The 9.4-mile project would add four toll lanes, two in each direction. Construction would start in 2026.

Work on a $647 million project to build two toll lanes in each direction of I-77 between uptown Charlotte and Cornelius is scheduled to be completed by late this year. One new lane will be added between Cornelius and Mooresville. Construction of the 26-mile project began in November 2015.

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Opposition to the I-77 north toll lanes has simmered for years, but state transportation officials say there’s not enough construction money available to build anything other than what they call “managed” lanes.

The I-77 widening is among 14 Mecklenburg County highway and aviation projects, worth nearly $3.3 billion, that scored highest among the more than 2,100 projects evaluated for construction over the next decade. The projects were scored on the basis of safety, congestion and cost-benefit analysis.

Members of the public can comment on the projects, and the scores, between April 30 and June 8. Local planning organization and DOT division engineers will collect those comments for “local input points.” The points will be combined with the data scores to arrive at a total score for each project to be released in August.

The top-scoring projects will be added to the 2020-29 State Transportation Improvement Plan for construction based on available funding.