Business

It’s he said, she said as I-77 fix appears to be filled with hurdles

NCDOT Secretary James Trogdon

Aug. 21. By Dave Vieser and Dave Yochum. The Town Boards in Huntersville and Cornelius have  approved resolutions asking the state legislature to exempt proposed changes in the I-77 toll lane project from the DOT’s Strategic Transportation Improvement Process.

The STI is used by the state to rank, score and prioritize funding for transportation projects.

“STI was never intended to score changes in scope for an existing contract” said Commissioner Kurt Naas, who introduced the resolution. “Using STI for changes in this critical project is like losing a hand in poker and trying to win it back by playing canasta. It’s the worst of both worlds.”

As the election season gets under way, the I-77 toll contract is front and center in the race between Jeff Tarte, the Republican incumbent, and Natasha Marcus, his opponent in NC Senate District 41.

Democrats wasted no time criticizing Tarte for what they say is a flip-flop on the tolls.

NATASHA MARCUS

Back in 2013, when the toll plan was packaged as the only way to get new lanes on I-77, Tarte said they were the “least onerous of the alternatives,” which included fuel taxes and taxing motorists on the actual miles they drive—or not building them at all.

“Republicans are now tripping over themselves to criticize the state for not magically canceling the I-77 toll contract,” NC Democratic party officials said in a press release today.

He faces Natasha Marcus, a Democrat from Davidson, in the elections Nov. 6.

Tarte fired back today with a letter to “Lake Norman neighbors” from leaders in the anti-toll revolution, lending their support to his campaingn for re-election.

The letter states, in part, that “we know he absolutely opposes managed toll lanes on I-77”

It goes on to say that Tarte has been working “ardently” against the 50-year Cintra deal, which he has described as a “brain-dead project.”

The signatories include Michelle Ferlauto, Mike Russell and Huntersville Commissioners Danny Phillips and Mark Gibbons, all members of the anti-toll group I77 Business Plan.

JEFF TARTE

Another key signatory is John “Mac” McAlpine, one of the very first toll-fighters. He organized the I-77 “Call to Action,” a meeting at the old Michael Waltrip Raceworld back in 2015. The meeting galvanized the business community’s opposition to the $650 million toll lane project.

Scoring the I-77 widening on the STI process came up this past week after NCDOT Secretary Jim Trogdon unveiled a number of options to modify and/or cancel the unpopular 50 year contract during a meeting of the I-77 Local Advisory Group.

Following the meeting, most of the members expressed concern over the delays and costs associated with the various options presented by Trogdon.

The resolution requests that the state’s General Assembly draft and enact legislation “exempting any change of scope, modification or cancellation of the I 77 Comprehensive Agreement from STI at the earliest opportunity.”

The Huntersville Town Board also adopted a similar resolution at their meeting Monday night.

NC Rep. John Bradford, a Cornelius resident, said he welcomes and supports the continued resolutions from the various towns in North Mecklenburg. “This specific resolution will help me continue to make the logical business case that our pre-STI treatment of the I-77 project should be handled in the same manner and not treated as an STI project,” Bradford said.

 

Discussion

One Response to “It’s he said, she said as I-77 fix appears to be filled with hurdles”

  1. Every time I drive down I77 now, I get angry at how we the people are being ignored. Seeing the “Toll” signs ready to be installed makes my blood boil. My husband and I are wondering if there are any activities planned where it would be good to make our opinions known in the large group that we are?
    There is discussion of lost commerce from businesses who will move south to avoid having to use the toll road. Is there anyone who can also estimate the business Charlotte is losing because of those of us who don’t take our money there to spend because we avoid using I77? It would be interesting to add that revenue loss.
    Our Governor also needs to know that he, too, is losing support because he has allowed the NCDOT head to keep his job and he has not specifically addressed and supported a no toll solution.

    Posted by Alice V. Hill | September 13, 2018, 6:03 pm

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