Crews to start blasting for I-77 toll lane tunnel; new traffic pattern begins

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Drivers will soon see a new traffic pattern on one of Charlotte's busiest highways as work continues on the Interstate 77 toll lanes project, which includes a new tunnel, officials said.

This weekend, drivers can expect ramp closures as workers start a new phase of the I-77 express lanes.

Crews will close the ramps to I-77 north of the I-85 interchange so they can start building new temporary lanes. Those new lanes will shift traffic so crews can build a tunnel that will be part of the I-77 express lanes.

Crews will blast this weekend for the first portion of a new tunnel that's being built as part of the I-77 express lanes.

Ramps will be closed Saturday and/or Sunday from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. along I-77 northbound, just north of the Interstate 85 and I-77 interchange, weather permitting.

Drivers should also expect to see slower traffic in that area.

Alternate routes include I-85, and law enforcement will assist with traffic.

There will be new traffic patterns in place over the next several weeks where there will be temporary safety barriers. Over the next few weeks, crews are set to place temporary barriers and new pavement markers along the interstate.

Once that's complete, the next phase of tunnel construction will begin.

Thousands of people have been highly critical of the project. Many of them wanted the state to widen I-77 without adding toll lanes that will fluctuate widely in cost, depending on how bad traffic is in the free lanes.

Vehicles carrying three or more people will be able to travel in the toll lanes for free.

When construction ends, the express lanes will run right next to existing lanes.

The new traffic pattern will be in place for nine months.

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