• I-77 express lanes are open, but drivers question if they're really done

    By: Blaine Tolison

    Updated:

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The Interstate 77 express lanes are open, but drivers are questioning if they're actually complete.

    The lanes were opened to the public Saturday, but they still have a potentially dangerous disparity with the pavement.

    The raised edge on I-77 has been blamed for a deadly motorcycle crash and for causing an RV to flip over.

    [WATCH: Camper overturns on I-77 in Iredell County]

    When a state contractor is paving a new road, the North Carolina Department of Transportation allows them to leave a 2-inch raised edge between the old asphalt and the new asphalt.

    The process is now being called into question.

    In June, Channel 9 captured the moment a truck pulling a trailer on I-77 flipped in Iredell County.

    The couple in the truck told Eyewitness News reporter Blaine Tolison they were reminded that day of why they have faith.

    “The Lord was with me and my wife that day because we didn’t get a scratch on us,” crash survivor Richard Owens said.

    [PAST COVERAGE: After years of construction, delays, fines, all I-77 express lanes open]

    The Owens have since replaced their RV and truck and continue to travel with their Christian motorcycle club.

    Richard Owens is still fighting a ticket for failure to maintain lane control, but he said his insurance company didn't consider him at fault.

    He said he still has no doubt the uneven pavement was to blame, and he thinks it also caused a crash that killed a motorcyclist on I-77 in Huntersville two days ago.

    “I would not want to even attempt trying to go up that grade on a motorcycle,” Owens said.

    [Report: Nearly 200 more problems found in I-77 toll lane construction zones]

    In fact, Huntersville police issued warnings to motorcyclists about the uneven pavement on Twitter Friday.

    Owens said the warnings aren't enough.

    “If they beveled it down that accident probably would’ve never happened,” he said.

    The raised edge has not been named as an official cause in any of the crashes, so NCDOT officials told Channel 9 they are waiting for a report on the deadly motorcycle crash before taking any further action.

    Even though the lanes on I-77 are open, the NCDOT continues to fine Cintra $30,000 a day because the entire project isn't done.

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