Interstate 77 in North Carolina

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Interstate 77

I-77 highlighted in red
Route information
Maintained by NCDOT
Length105.7 mi[1][2] (170.1 km)
Existed1965–present
NHSEntire route
Major junctions
South end I-77 / US 21 at the South Carolina line near Fort Mill, SC
Major intersections
North end I-77 at the Virginia line near Mount Airy
Location
CountryUnited States
StateNorth Carolina
CountiesMecklenburg, Iredell, Yadkin, Surry
Highway system
US 76 NC 78

Interstate 77 (I-77) is a part of the Interstate Highway System that runs from Columbia, South Carolina, to Cleveland, Ohio. In North Carolina, I-77 enters the state at Charlotte, from South Carolina. Crossing the Piedmont, it connects with Statesville before continuing north into Virginia. The landscapes traversed by I-77 is a contrast of urban and rural foothills, with views of the Blue Ridge Mountains seen from a distance on its most northern section. The Interstate extends for 105.7 miles (170.1 km) and has one auxiliary route.

The freeway bears several names in addition to the I-77 designation. Throughout the state, the freeway is known as the Blue Star Memorial Highway, a name shared with multiple Interstates across the state. Starting at the South Carolina state line, it is known as the General Paul R. Younts Expressway, switching at Woodlawn Road to the Bill Lee Freeway, ending at the MecklenburgIredell county line. In Surry County, it is known as the Charles M. Shelton Highway.[3][4][5]

Not originally part of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, I-77 was added the following year as a route between Charlotte and Port Huron, Michigan, via Detroit, Michigan. In 1958, the routing was realigned toward Cleveland instead; the Detroit–Port Huron section became part of I-94. I-77 received two extension approvals; the first in 1964, continuing south from I-85 to US Route 74 (US 74), and the second in 1969 to the South Carolina state line toward Columbia. The Interstate was completed in 1977.

Route description

Virginia–North Carolina state line on I-77

I-77 begins at the South Carolina state line, near Fort Mill, in concurrency with US 21. I-77 goes through the city of Charlotte as a major north–south corridor, connecting Uptown Charlotte with the suburbs of Pineville, Huntersville, Cornelius, and Davidson. Shortly after entering North Carolina, it expands to six lanes. Between I-485 (exit 2) and I-277 (exit 9), the highway experiences massive traffic congestion during weekday rush hours (7:00–9:30 am/4:00–6:30 pm) due to commuter traffic. I-77 later encounters the other end of I-277 at exit 11, with the northbound carriageway briefly splitting from the southbound one and making an S-curve underneath I-277 due to the presence of left-hand exit ramps (southbound has a straight-through setup). Just north of Uptown Charlotte, I-77 makes a unique interchange configuration with I-85 (exit 13), with north and southbound lanes crisscrossing briefly. Between I-85 and I-485 (exit 19), I-77 featured the state's only high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, but, since 2019, they have been converted to express lanes that extend for 26 miles (42 km). After I-485, I-77 reduces to five lanes (three lanes northbound), then to four lanes after Gilead Road (exit 23).

At Lake Norman, I-77 crosses into Iredell County and becomes a more suburban Interstate, passing through Mooresville and then Statesville, where it intersects with I-40. It gradually becomes more rural outside of Statesville, becoming entirely rural after exiting Iredell County. For the rest of I-77's stretch through North Carolina, the only possible rest stop is the town of Elkin; the speed limit through this area is 70 mph (110 km/h). The final five miles (8.0 km) of I-77 is concurrent with I-74 to the Virginia state line (where I-74 ends), all within view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.[1]

Express lanes

The I-77 Express lanes were financed, developed, and constructed and are operated and maintained by I-77 Mobility Partners, in a public–private partnership with the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT). The express lanes replaced the first and only HOV lanes in North Carolina, which existed from 2004–2015.[6][7][8]

The 26-mile (42 km) high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes are contained entirely within the median of I-77, with various connecting points to and from the general purpose lanes and direct access to northbound I-85 and southbound I-277/North Carolina Highway 16 (NC 16; Brookshire Freeway). The express lanes begin with four lanes (two lanes for each direction) at Brookshire Freeway (exit 11), in Charlotte; reduce to two lanes (one lane for each direction) at Catawba Avenue (exit 28), in Cornelius; and end at NC 150 (exit 36), near Mooresville. The tentative maximum speed limit is 65 mph (105 km/h) with a minimum speed limit at 45 mph (72 km/h).[9] There are two exits in the stretch that are exclusive to the express lanes: at Lakeview Road in Charlotte and at Hambright Road in Huntersville.

Only vehicles with two axles or motorcycles are allowed on the express lanes. Emergency vehicles when responding to emergencies and mass transit vehicles are exempt and are not tolled.[9]

On June 1, 2019, the first portion of the I-77 Express lanes opened between Hambright Road in Huntersville and NC 150 in Mooresville. The remainder of the I-77 Express lanes south to I-277 in Charlotte were open in November 2019.[10][11]

Tolls

The express lanes uses all-electronic tolling, with tolls payable with a valid transponder (NC Quick Pass, E-ZPass, Peach Pass, or SunPass) or bill by mail, which uses automatic license plate recognition and charge a higher rate with additional fees. Toll rates are based on a dynamic pricing, which means toll prices will fluctuate periodically throughout the day based on real-time traffic conditions and demand to maintain an average travel speed of 48 mph (77 km/h); toll rate changes may occur as frequently as every five minutes, though drivers will only pay the rate displayed when entering the express lanes.[12] When the express lanes first opened in September 2018, they used a fixed rate based on the segment and time of day for the first 180 days of operation, with a total one-way rate range within $0.30–$11.00 with valid transponder.[13]

As of March 5, 2022, the total one-way northbound rate will range within $2.70–$70.45 and the total one-way southbound rate will range within $2.45–$58.00 with valid transponder.[14]

HOV3+

Vehicles with three passengers or more may use the express lanes for free, provided they have a E-ZPass Flex Transponder or notify via the HOV mobile app/website, with at least 15 minutes before traveling. Violators are subject to a fine of up to $100 plus court costs; as well as two points against their driver's license for each HOV infraction. Motorcycle drivers with a valid transponder may use the express lanes for free.[6][9][15]

History

I-77/US 21 northbound approaching the Arrowood Road interchange in Charlotte
Iredell County Rest Area

I-77 was not part of the original plans for 714 miles (1,149 km) of the nation's Interstate Highway System in North Carolina when they were conveyed in 1956 by the then-North Carolina State Highway Commission. I-77 was added in 1957, increasing the state's mileage to 776 miles (1,249 km).[16]

On August 4, 1959, the commission selected the routing of I-77 to run between I-85 in Charlotte and a point on the Virginia border in Elkin. That would change in late 1960 when the commission voted to route the highway just west of Mount Airy, saying the route would serve the most people.

With construction beginning in the 1960s, I-77 would gain additional mileage in October 1964 when a two-mile (3.2 km) extension was granted by the US Bureau of Public Roads. Instead of ending at I-85, I-77 now ended at Independence Boulevard (US 74) in Uptown Charlotte. Another extension was granted in the late 1960s that extended I-77 from Independence Boulevard to the South Carolina border. The latest extension also included a relocation of US 21 from the city's surface streets to the new Interstate.

I-77 opened to traffic in the following segments:

  • 1965: Yadkin and Surry counties (US-21 Elkin Bypass only).
  • 1966: A 23-mile (37 km) stretch in Iredell County.
  • 1967: Stretches in Mecklenburg, Yadkin, and Iredell counties.
  • 1968: A stretch of highway in the Davidson and Cornelius areas in Mecklenburg and Iredell counties.

By 1972, I-77 was open from exit 28 (NC 73) to exit 73 north of Elkin. The last two sections of the highway to open to traffic was the stretch from Cornelius to Charlotte in 1975 and from exit 73 to the Virginia state line in 1977.

In April 2001, I-74 was overlapped with I-77 from the Virginia state line to exit 101.[17]

On December 17, 2004, I-77 was widened to six-lanes with HOV lanes, between I-85 to the proposed location of I-485 (later opened December 8, 2008).[6]

On June 28, 2013, a new interchange was added in Mooresville: exit 35 (Brawley School Road). The interchange was built with additional shoulder space and lights that will not need to be moved when I-77 is eventually widened in area.[18]

In 2015, NCDOT signed a contract with I-77 Mobility Partners to begin construction and eventual management of the toll lanes starting in 2018.[19] However, new criticism erupted before the financial agreement was made when local politicians discovered the contract was amended in 2014 giving I-77 Mobility Partners a 50-year noncompete clause. The clause eliminated any future widening of additional free-lanes between Uptown Charlotte and Mooresville, or, if any additional free-lanes were added, then NCDOT would have to pay the developer compensation.[20][21][22] The toll lanes between Mooresville and Huntersville opened June 1, 2019, and the last sections leading into Uptown Charlotte opened November 23 of that year.[11][23]

On February 1, 2018, NCDOT opened a new rest area located in the median of I-77, at milemarker 58. Construction of the 5,000-square-foot (460 m2) $15-million (equivalent to $18.2 million in 2022[24]) facility started in early 2015. With the opening of the facility, four older rest areas in Iredell and Yadkin counties, built in 1972–1973, were closed.[25]

On November 22, 2022, a news helicopter crashed near I-77 at Nations Ford Road in South Charlotte, killing pilot Chip Tayag and meteorologist Jason Myers, who were employees of local TV station WBTV.[26]

Future

Woodlawn Road/Billy Graham Parkway overhead sign

I-77 is planned to have its existing southbound travel lanes widened (not add more lanes), between I-277/NC 16 (Brookshire Freeway) to I-85 in Charlotte. Estimated to cost $16.5 million, the purpose of the project is to widen the lanes back to proper Interstate standards as agreed with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), when NCDOT were given design exceptions when adding the HOV lanes in 2004. Construction began in late 2016.[27]

As of June 2016, HOT lanes are being constructed along I-77. The project is broken into two parts: the first is constructing new travel lanes from I-485 interchange (exit 19) to West Catawba Avenue (exit 28), at an estimated cost of $57 million, and the second would be to convert the existing HOV lanes from Brookshire Boulevard (exit 11) to I-485 (exit 19). After completion, drivers and motorcyclists can still use the lane for free if qualified under HOV rules; noncompliant drivers will be charged a toll.[28][29][30][31] In July 2019, NCDOT and the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization announced a project that would convert segments of I-77 shoulders to travel lanes to be used only during peak periods between I-485 and Mooresville.[32]

Another set of HOT lanes is currently being studied along I-77 from south of Uptown Charlotte to the South Carolina border.[33]

The I-40/I-77 interchange (exit 51) is undergoing a major upgrade in three phases: reconstruction of nearby intersections on both Interstates, reconstruction and widening of I-40/I-77 interchange, and construction of new ramps at the interchange. The estimated cost for the entire project is $251 million, and construction began in March 2012. It will replace the current interchange, which was built in the late 1960s.[34][35][36]

Auxiliary route

I-277 is the only auxiliary route in the state. The auxiliary route loops around uptown Charlotte.

Exit list

CountyLocationmi[1]kmExitDestinationsNotes
MecklenburgCharlotte0.000.00

I-77 south / US 21 south – Rock Hill, Columbia
Continuation into South Carolina
0.91.41AWestinghouse Boulevard
1.82.91B I-485 – Huntersville, PinevilleFormerly exit 2 (southbound) before August 2010; I-485 exit 67
2.84.53Arrowood RoadFormerly exit 2 (northbound) before August 2010
3.76.04Nations Ford Road
4.87.75Tyvola RoadSingle-point urban interchange
6.09.76AWoodlawn Road south (Charlotte Route 4 east) – Queens UniversityTo Pfeiffer University
6.210.06B
To NC 49 (S. Tryon Street) / Billy Graham Parkway (Charlotte Route 4 west)
To Billy Graham Library and Charlotte Douglas International Airport; southbound signed as NC 49 south (S. Tryon St. south) only
7.311.77
To NC 49 / Clanton Road
8.313.48
To NC 160 / Remount Road
Northbound exit and southbound entrance
9.014.59A NC 160 (West Boulevard)Southbound exit and northbound entrance; access from collector-distributor lanes
9.415.19B


I-277 north / US 74 east / NC 27 east (John Belk Freeway)
Access from collector-distributor lanes; I-277 exits 1B-C
9.515.39C


US 74 west (Wilkinson Boulevard) / NC 27 west to US 29
US 29 and NC 27 signed northbound only; access from collector-distributor lanes; US 74 exits 1B-C
9.915.910A
US 29 (Morehead Street) to NC 27
Southbound exit and northbound entrance; former route of NC 27
10.416.710Trade Street / Fifth StreetSigned southbound as exits 10B (Trade Street east) and 10C (Fifth Street/Trade Street west)
11.017.711A

I-277 south / NC 16 south (Brookshire Freeway east) – Downtown Charlotte
I-277 exits 5A-B
11.218.011B
NC 16 north (Brookshire Freeway west)
Left exit northbound; NC 16 exits 5A-B

I-77 north (Express lanes)
Southern terminus of HOV3+/toll lanes

I-277 south
Express lanes only; southbound exit and northbound entrance
12.420.012Lasalle Street / Atando Avenue
13.321.413 I-85 – Greensboro, SpartanburgSigned as exits 13A (north) and 13B (south); hybrid interchange; I-85 exit 38

I-85 north
Express lanes only; northbound exit and southbound entrance
15.825.416

US 21 north (Sunset Road) to NC 115
North end of US 21 overlap; signed as exits 16A (north/east) and 16B (west)
To Historic Latta Plantation/Carolina Raptor Center; parclo
Lakeview RoadExpress lanes only
18.629.918 NC 24 (W.T. Harris Boulevard)To Northlake Mall; parclo
Huntersville19.731.719A


I-485 north (Inner) to I-85 north – Matthews
I-485 exits 23A-B; I-85 not signed northbound
19B


I-485 south (Outer) to I-85 south – Pineville
Hambright RoadExpress lanes only
23.037.023Gilead Road – Huntersville
25.541.025 NC 73 – Concord, Huntersville
Cornelius28.345.528
US 21 south (Catawba Avenue) – Cornelius, Lake Norman
Diverging Diamond Interchange.[37] South end of US 21 overlap
Davidson29.848.030Griffith Street – Davidson
Lake NormanLake Norman Causeway
IredellMooresville31.751.031Langtree Road – Mooresville
33.353.633
US 21 north – Lake Norman
North end of US 21 overlap
35.056.335Brawley School RoadSingle-point urban interchange
36.258.336 NC 150 – Lincolnton, MooresvillePlanned diverging diamond interchange[37]

I-77 south (Express Lanes)
Northern terminus of HOV3+/toll lanes
41.867.342 US 21 / NC 115 – TroutmanHalf-clover interchange
45.573.245Amity Hill Road – Troutman, Barium Springs
Statesville48.778.449A US 70 (Garner Bagnal Boulevard)Half-clover interchange
49.078.949BStatesville, DowntownHalf-clover interchange
50.180.650E. Broad Street – Downtown
51.382.651 I-40 – Winston-Salem, AshevilleSigned as exits 51A (east) and 51B (west) southbound; cloverleaf interchange; I-40 exit 152
54.086.954 US 21 – Turnersburg
59.095.059Tomlin Mill Road – Olin
65.5105.465 NC 901 – Harmony, Union Grove
YadkinBrooks Crossroads73.7118.673 US 421 – Yadkinville, Winston-Salem, Wilkesboro, BooneSigned as exits 73A (south) and 73B (north); cloverleaf interchange; US 421 exit 265
79.0127.179


US 21 south / US 21 Bus. north – Jonesville
South end of US 21 overlap
Jonesville81.9131.882 NC 67 – Jonesville, Boonville, Elkin
Yadkin RiverSgt. Gregory Keith Martin Memorial Bridges
SurryElkin83.7134.783
US 21 north – Sparta, Roaring Gap
North end of US 21 overlap; southbound access is via exit 85
84.8136.585


NC 268 Byp. to US 21 north – Elkin
Salem Fork93.2150.093Zephyr Road ⁠– Dobson
Oak Grove100.0160.9100 NC 89 – Mount Airy, Galax
Pine Ridge100.8162.2101
I-74 east – Mount Airy, Winston-Salem
East end of I-74 overlap; semi-directional T interchange; I-74 exit 5
105.7170.1
I-77 north (Future I-74) – Wytheville
Continuation into Virginia
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi


See also

References

  1. ^ a b c Google (January 27, 2011). "I-77 in NC" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved January 27, 2011.
  2. ^ "Route Log – Main Routes of the Eisenhower National System Of Interstate and Defense Highways – Table 1". Federal Highway Administration. Archived from the original on August 22, 2013. Retrieved October 4, 2014.
  3. ^ "Blue Star Memorial Highways Fact Sheet" (PDF). North Carolina Department of Transportation. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 22, 2017. Retrieved October 7, 2018.
  4. ^ "General Paul R. Younts Expressway". Archived from the original on October 19, 2012. Retrieved January 27, 2011.
  5. ^ "Road and Bridge Namings in North Carolina" (PDF). North Carolina Department of Transportation. July 30, 2015. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 30, 2016. Retrieved October 7, 2018.
  6. ^ a b c "NCDOT: HOV Lanes". Archived from the original on September 18, 2009. Retrieved November 1, 2011.
  7. ^ "I-77 HOT Lanes Project". U.S. Department of Transportation. Archived from the original on October 8, 2018. Retrieved October 7, 2018.
  8. ^ "NCDOT: I-77 Express Lanes". North Carolina Department of Transportation. Archived from the original on October 8, 2018. Retrieved October 7, 2018.
  9. ^ a b c "FAQs – I77 Express Lanes". I-77 Mobility Partners. Archived from the original on October 8, 2018. Retrieved October 7, 2018.
  10. ^ Marusak, Joe (May 31, 2019). "First part of I-77 toll lanes finally opened Saturday. Here's what you need to know". The Charlotte Observer. Archived from the original on June 2, 2019. Retrieved June 1, 2019.
  11. ^ a b Hagerty, Anne Marie (November 18, 2019). "Final stretch of I-77 Express now open, toll lane construction completed". WBTV. Archived from the original on December 10, 2019. Retrieved November 30, 2019.
  12. ^ "Toll Rates – I77 Express Lanes". I-77 Mobility Partners. Archived from the original on June 5, 2022. Retrieved April 13, 2022.
  13. ^ "Toll-rate-presentation-for-website-9.25.18-MVA-Edits" (PDF). I-77 Mobility Partners. September 25, 2018. Archived (PDF) from the original on August 1, 2020. Retrieved October 7, 2018.
  14. ^ "March 5, 2022 Max-Min-Rates" (PDF). I-77 Mobility Partners. March 5, 2022. Archived (PDF) from the original on April 6, 2022. Retrieved April 13, 2022.
  15. ^ "NC Quick Pass Transponders". North Carolina Turnpike Authority. Archived from the original on June 12, 2018. Retrieved October 7, 2018.
  16. ^ North Carolina Department of Transportation. Facts: Interstate 77 Archived April 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, NCDOT Web site. Retrieved April 21, 2007.
  17. ^ "I-74 Segment 1". Archived from the original on April 1, 2011. Retrieved January 2, 2011.
  18. ^ Staff (June 28, 2013). "Opening of Exit 35 on Interstate 77 Signals the End of the Brawley School Road Widening Project in Mooresville". North Carolina Department of Transportation. Archived from the original on July 4, 2013. Retrieved June 28, 2013.
  19. ^ "NCDOT Announces Financial Close on I-77 Express Lanes Project" (Press release). North Carolina Department of Transportation. May 20, 2015. Archived from the original on September 7, 2015. Retrieved May 20, 2015.
  20. ^ Perlmutt, David (May 19, 2015). "Mecklenburg commissioners side with towns asking for I-77 toll road project delay". The Charlotte Observer. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved May 20, 2015.
  21. ^ Harrison, Steve (May 20, 2015). "Toll lane opponent: DOT overlooked best free-lane option". The Charlotte Observer. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved May 20, 2015.
  22. ^ Perlmutt, David (May 19, 2015). "Mecklenburg commissioners side with towns asking for I-77 toll road project delay". The Charlotte Observer. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved May 20, 2015.
  23. ^ Marusak, Joe (May 31, 2019). "First part of I-77 toll lanes finally opened Saturday. Here's what you need to know". Archived from the original on June 8, 2019. Retrieved July 7, 2019.
  24. ^ Johnston, Louis; Williamson, Samuel H. (2023). "What Was the U.S. GDP Then?". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved December 19, 2023. United States Gross Domestic Product deflator figures follow the Measuring Worth series.
  25. ^ "New Rest Area to Open in Iredell County this Week" (Press release). North Carolina Department of Transportation. January 29, 2018. Archived from the original on February 2, 2018. Retrieved February 1, 2018.
  26. ^ Cox, Kallie; Marusak, Joe (November 22, 2022). "Charlotte Meteorologist and Pilot from WBTV Killed in Helicopter crash off Interstate 77". Charlotte Observer. Retrieved November 22, 2022.
  27. ^ "NCDOT: I-77 Improvements – Mecklenburg County". Archived from the original on July 10, 2011. Retrieved January 27, 2011.
  28. ^ "NCDOT: Project I-5405". Archived from the original on October 29, 2011. Retrieved November 1, 2011.
  29. ^ "HOV lanes will change to toll lanes on I-77". Retrieved November 1, 2011.[permanent dead link]
  30. ^ "I-77 HOV lanes in NC could add toll". Archived from the original on November 7, 2011. Retrieved November 1, 2011.
  31. ^ "I-77 Feasibility Study HOV-to-HOT Lanes Conversion" (PDF). Retrieved November 1, 2011.[permanent dead link]
  32. ^ Henderson, Bruce (July 17, 2019). "I-77 shoulders north of Charlotte to become travel lanes during rush hours". The Charlotte Observer. Archived from the original on July 18, 2019. Retrieved July 17, 2019.
  33. ^ "I-5718 MECKLENBURG COUNTY" (PDF). NCDOT. April 9, 2018. Archived (PDF) from the original on February 2, 2020. Retrieved July 17, 2019.
  34. ^ "NCDOT: Project I-3819". Archived from the original on October 29, 2011. Retrieved November 1, 2011.
  35. ^ "DOT Report: Interchange At I-40, I-77 To Cost $250M". Archived from the original on July 3, 2011. Retrieved November 1, 2011.
  36. ^ "The Construction of I-40/I-77 Interchange" (PDF). Retrieved November 1, 2011.[dead link]
  37. ^ a b Marusak, Joe (4 February 2012). "New interchange planned for bottlenecked I-77 exit". Charlotte, NC: Charlotte Observer. Archived from the original on 1 June 2012. Retrieved 2 March 2013.

External links


Interstate 77
Previous state:
South Carolina
North Carolina Next state:
Virginia