Proposed toll lane project moves forward; some taxpayers object - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

State's plan to add HOV lanes to I-77 draws critics

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CORNELIUS, NC (WBTV) -

The state of North Carolina is planning to use some of your taxpayer money to pay for toll roads just outside the Queen City.

Monday night, nearly 150 angry taxpayers showed up to protest the state's plan.

If the state continues to move forward, the high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane from Brookshire Blvd north would transform into a toll lane. Construction workers would build an additional lane as well. The two new toll lanes would stretch from Brookshire Blvd to Exit 28. From Exit 28 to Exit 36, crews would add one toll lane in each direction.

"They need to widen the road. The HOV lanes are empty people don't want to use them," said Huntersville resident Carole Gibbons.

Gibbons and the group Widen I-77 met to protest plans to add any toll lanes, and use existing gas tax money to fund the project.

"It's (our gas tax) going to other parts of the state. They need to start looking towards Charlotte," Gibbons said.

But Cornelius Mayor Pro Tem Chuck Travis says the camera operated toll lanes would guarantee the widening to happen, and decades sooner.

"It's funding for today," he said.

DOT officials estimate the project to cost between $500 and $550 million. State, federal, and taxpayer money would pay for $110 to $170 of the project. The rest would come from private sources.

"Does it solve congestion? Yes," Travis said.

A spokesman with the state DOT says officials are constantly making changes to their plan and nothing is set in stone, though the state is moving forward with the current plan. Drivers with three or more in the car would not have to pay any tolls.

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