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Fast Lanes

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About the Study

Transportation planners from across the region have joined together to examine the feasibility of Fast Lanes on major highways in the Charlotte region. The study will determine the technical, financial and institutional feasibility of dedicating lanes on major highways in the Charlotte region for active traffic management.

In 2007, the Charlotte Department of Transportation (CDOT), the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) and other agencies in the Charlotte region began an examination of existing and planned major highways throughout a 10-county area to identify where Fast Lanes – high-occupancy vehicle (HOV), high-occupancy toll (HOT) or truck-only toll facilities – could help manage congestion during peak travel periods. Phase I screened freeways and other Strategic Highway Corridors to identify the most promising corridors for Fast Lanes. View the Fast Lanes Phase 1 Final Report. The study’s second phase included evaluations of physical designs, operational requirements, revenues and costs for roadways that remained after Phase I screening.

In 2009, the City of Charlotte submitted a proposal to the Federal Highway Administration to receive funding from the Value Pricing Program in order to advance to a third phase of the Fast Lanes Study. The application was approved in 2010, and NCDOT provided the required non-federal match in 2011.

The objectives of Phase III of the Fast Lanes Study included:

  • Build on Phase I and II results
  • Familiarize the public with the concept of congestion pricing
  • Develop a better understanding of policy and technical issues associated with congestion pricing
  • Determine public acceptance for the next managed lanes project(s). I-77 North between Charlotte and Mooresville is expected to be the first corridor with HOT lanes. US-74 East between Charlotte and Matthews and I-485 South between Pineville and Matthews will be the focal study corridors in Phase III.
  • Define the preferred Fast Lanes projects for the above corridors.

Phase III began in February 2012 and concluded in June 2013.

What are some types of Fast Lanes?

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) defines managed lanes as offering “enhanced operational conditions within separated lanes, which result in outcomes such as greater efficiency free-flow speeds or reduced congestion.”

High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes are reserved for buses, carpools and vanpools. HOV lanes currently exist in the Charlotte region on I-77 between I-85 and Exit 23 in Huntersville.

HOT (High Occupancy Toll) lanes allow buses, carpools and vanpools to travel at no-charge reserved lanes, while single occupant vehicles must pay a toll.

Special Use lanes are express lanes with limited entrances and exits, bus-only lanes, and truck-only lanes

Why consider Fast Lanes?

Travel demand is growing faster than population.
Rush-hour congestion is expanding into more hours.
Travel patterns are diverse.
Travel distances are increasing as people choose housing farther from work.

NCDOT estimates a $65 billion gap between future anticipated revenues and the actual cost of building, operating and maintaining roads statewide.

Fast Lanes are long-term, sustainable facilities that safely provide travel times savings and trip reliability.

Phase III Study Partners

Federal Highway Administration

North Carolina Turnpike Authority (NCDOT)

Charlotte Department of Transportation

Charlotte Area Transit System

Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization

Town of Matthews

Town of Pineville

Rock Hill-Fort Mill Transportation Study

South Carolina Department of Transportation


Phase III:
Phase III of the Fast Lanes Study was funded through a Value Pricing Program grant administered by the Federal Highway Administration. The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) provided the matching funds for the federal grant. The City of Charlotte managed the study under a Municipal Agreement with NCDOT. Tim Gibbs was the City’s study manager. Parsons Brinckerhoff was selected to assist on the study.


Other Studies

Several cities and states across the country have undertaken similar studies and implemented similar solutions. Click on the links below to view these initiatives.

Charlotte – Feasibility Study for I-77 (FS-0510A)

 San Diego – South Bay Expressway

Orange County, California -The Toll Roads

Denver – 1-25 Express Lanes

Washington State – HOT Lanes pilot program