I-77 drivers concerned about use of shoulder lane for travel

Drivers on I-77 are concerned about a DOT proposal that would allow the shoulder lane to be used as a travel lane during peak traffic periods once the toll lanes open in the northern section from Huntersville to Mooresville.

“I-77 is busy from 4-6 p.m. every day. The traffic is horrible,” said Montoya Payne, who travels I-77 often.

With all the traffic on I-77 drivers absolutely want relief, but not at the cost of safety.

“I think drivers shouldn’t use the shoulder lanes because I think they serve as an emergency area,” said Nishitha Karumuri, who lives in Huntersville.

On Wednesday night the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization discussed a plan to allow drivers to use the shoulder lane of I-77 north between Huntersville and Mooresville during the heaviest travel times of the day.

If the plan is approved it wouldn’t take effect until sometime after the toll lanes open up in the northern stretch, which could happen in the next several weeks, according to an official.

“Definitely a safety issue, if there’s an accident on the side of the road,” said Austin Morphis, who lives in Huntersville.

“I think that would probably help. I don’t know if you have an emergency what’s going to happen, but anything would help I would assume,” said Watty Newsome, who lives in Cornelius.

Fox 46 asked the Turnpike Authority how emergency responders would get around if the shoulder lane is being used by drivers. The agency told us emergency responders can roll over the white sticks separating the lanes. They’re called delineators and crews can get around traffic that way.

“That’s a start. It’s nice for them to think about the traffic flow,” said Newsome.

Drivers say they like anything that helps traffic move as long as it’s done safely.

The CRTPO says it still has to decide on several issues including where the money will come from to add enhancements to the shoulder lane such as digital signs telling drivers when the lane is open.