NCDOT responds to safety concerns in I-77 toll lane construction areas

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The North Carolina Department of Transportion has issued a detailed response to safety concerns in the Interstate 77 toll lane construction zone.

Channel 9 has highlighted some of these issues in the toll lanes for months.

Most of them were brought to NCDOT by drivers and a local safety advocacy group after video surfaced showing disappearing lanes, hundreds of crashes, and no place to pull of.

These issues include lane striping that did not stick to the road, causing confusion for drivers, plastic posts too close to traffic, and poor lighting.


In response to the lane striping:

"Highly reflective lane striping and snowplowable markers currently are not installed because they would have to be removed for construction and paving operations taking place. There are several areas where striping and markers need to be updated and crews are addressing those areas as weather conditions allow."

In response to the plastic posts:

"The white plastic posts are closer to the travel lanes temporarily because of the space needed to allow crews to safely pave. Once final paving is finishsed, they will be about two feet away from traffic."

NCDOT said some lighting will be installed by the end of the summer, but other parts of I-77 will not be lit until the end of construction later this year.

NCDOT also reported that crashes on I-77 have increased by 62 percent since the project began in 2015.

In one video, nervousness can be heard in the voice of a passenger recording as she was heading south on I-77 when stripes marking the lanes around Exit 23 disappeared.

In a different video, another driver with a dash camera drove the same stretch at night and noticed still no lines painted. That video caught drivers drifting dangerously too close to one another.

Channel 9 spoke to Michelle Ferlauto about safety issues she submitted to NCDOT including poor lane striping two weeks ago. Ferlauto said she is now submitting a formal petition in Raleigh and calling on state leaders to hold the contractors accountable.

"How much is playing a factor in the 88 percent increase in accidents since this project started?" Ferlauto said. "As far as enforcement and drivers having some avenue of recourse when something happens, you know, there really isn't anything in place."

Eyewitness News Anchor Blaine Tolison also sent one of the videos to North Carolina House Representative Chaz Beasley, who said the roadway has been like for awhile.

"Not only did I see the video, I experienced what was in the video first hand on Friday when I was driving that section of I-77," Beasley said.

Both Ferlauto and Beasley said there needs to be more checks and balances. Beasley is considering legislation before it gets worse.

"I think we have to remember that this is a problem that the entire county could very well be affected by, regardless of where you live," Beasley said.

An NCDOT spokesperson said temporary "tape-style" lane markings came loose Saturday and were not corrected until late Sunday night because of rain Saturday.

The petition was going around calling for more safety on I-77 in the construction zone has more than 1,000 signatures and it will be submitted to the governor, NCDOT, and local representatives by the end of the week.

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