Opposition to I-77 tolls continues to gain traction. Mooresville Town Board meets tonight

Opposition to I-77 tolls continues to gain traction. Mooresville Town Board meets tonight

UPDATE. May 18. The Mooresville Board of Commissioners will hold a Special Meeting tonight to consider asking the state to delay the financial closing on planned Interstate 77 toll lanes. Mayor Miles Atkins said there are “too many questions” around the $655 million project. “The state should hold off on its financial closing” with Cintra, the private Spanish company which would operated the toll lanes.

A resolution regarding the I-77 Toll lanes will be considered tonight by the Mooresville Board of Commissioners. “With the recently discovered contract amendments and too many unanswered questions, I simply cannot justify moving forward with the current project as is,” Atkins said.

Similar resolutions have been passed by the town boards in Cornelius, Huntersville and Davidson in the past two weeks. The Mecklenburg County Commission is expected to introduce its own resolution May 19.

It looks like it may be possible to fight Cintra, the NCDOT and Gov. McCrory. Eighteen months past Virginia’s financial closing with the same exact Spanish partner on a similar toll road project, and, having already spent $280 million, the Commonwealth first called a timeout for the project in March to study whether it could be fixed or restructured. This month Virginia decided to terminate the contract and litigate with Cintra. The state of Virginia’s official statement is: “It is in the taxpayers’ best interest to terminate the contract.”

Top Ten Reasons to Defeat the Tolls

Top Ten Reasons to Defeat the Tolls

Opposition to the 50-year contract has grown to a tidal wave with the help of the internet and citizens groups, including and Exit 28 Ridiculousness on Facebook. Still, it might be too little too late. Gov. Pat McCrory has already stated that he plans to go forward with the toll plan based on how various local government officials have voted over the past several years. The toll option has been part of local planning for years, with local electeds, current and former, participating in the plan.

One of them, a member of the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization (CRTPO), also known as the Mecklenburg-Union Metropolitan Planning Organization (MUMPO) said opposition to the tolls by some of the politicians is merely an act at this point: “It probably makes no difference now. Too bad the local politicians waited too long. The train left the station months ago.”

Nevertheless, citizen opposition is burgeoning. The Exit 28 Ridiculousness page now has more than 3,300 members, having doubled in size in little more than a month. Along with WidenI77, citizens are planning more protests and trips to Raleigh to fight the tolls.

Bill Russell, CEO of the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce which has a non-voting seat on the Lake Norman Transportation Commission, said the chamber’s position on express lanes has not “varied tremendously” from 2013 to 2015. The LNTC has endorsed the toll project.

 “The Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce  supports efforts to use from existing sources (Motor Fuel Tax and Vehicle Fees) and through alternative methods for additional funding for roads and transit such as tolls, public private partnerships and design-build financing that are reasonably calculated and expected to lower congestion on roadways in a manner that does not put a disproportionate burden on businesses.”


Statements from the president of the Northcross Master Association, which represents dozens of Northcross businesses, are crystal clear. “The I77 toll lane project continues to reveal how damaging it will be to our businesses, economy and quality of life,” said Vince Winegardner, president of Northcross. He is an outspoken critic of the toll lanes and a leader of the WidenI77 anti-toll organization

Click here for Winegardner’s letter to association members, as well as reports from Dunn & Bradstreet and Fitch. The D&B report calls the proposed contract with Cintra “complex and cumbersome.”


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