No definitive timeline for hardened shoulders on I-77, NCDOT says

Interstate 77 commuters will have to wait longer for traffic relief.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation told Channel 9 it does not have “a definitive project timeline” for the hardened-shoulder project. According to the town of Cornelius, construction was originally anticipated to start in 2023 and last two years.

Following opposition of the I-77 toll lane project, Gov. Roy Cooper convened a task force to explore ways on how to deal WITH traffic solutions for Lake Norman residents. A solution that was signed off by the task force involves widening and hardening the shoulders of I-77 to allow the public to use them as general-purpose lanes during peak congestion times. The project would run from Intestate 485 to N.C. Highway 150 (Exit 36) in Mooresville.

In 2019, The Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization approved $47 million to fund the project.


According to NCDOT, the department started preliminary design work when the pandemic hit, which resulted in lower traffic volumes. The department is currently in the process of updating its traffic analysis.

However, a spokesperson could not say when the project will break ground, citing an overprogramming of the State Transportation Improvement Program.

“Like most industries right now, NCDOT is seeing rising costs for labor and materials. This has caused our draft 10-year plan, or STIP, to be overprogrammed,” spokeswoman Jen Thompson said. “We are in the process of revising this document, so we don’t have a definitive project timeline at this point. We will continue to work with the CRTPO to ensure we deliver projects that communities need, want, and will use.”

The hardened shoulders were considered a solution for people opposed to the I-77 toll lane project. Leaders are considering adding more toll lanes on the interstate.

The CRTPO will discuss adding express lanes on I-77 from The Brookshire to South Carolina. NCDOT said it received an unsolicited proposal from a firm to build the project. The CRTPO will discuss the proposal on Wednesday and potentially direct the state on how to move forward.

(Watch the video below: Charlotte transportation organization to discuss I-77 toll lanes to South Carolina)