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Jeter’s I-77 summit will bring top decision-makers together soon

UPDATED 6:40 pm Nov. 9. NC Rep. Charles Jeter will convene an I-77 summit within the next 10 business days to hash out ways to fix the controversial toll plan. The divisive issue led to resounding defeats on Election Day to officials like Mayor Jill Swain and Commissioner Sarah McAulay in Huntersville.

Jeter said that “in direct consultation with Gov. Pat McCrory, the meeting would include current Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization (CRTPO) members, affected area state legislators, mayors and top vote-getters, recently elected and officials from NCDOT.”

One of the key election results was McAulay’s defeat. A proponent of the toll plan, she is the chairman of the CRTPO, a group of appointees that controls the to-do list for highway construction in and around the Charlotte metro area.

Woody Washam, mayor pro tem of Cornelius, and a member of the CRTPO, said he is eager to  be part of any summit “whose goal is to terminate” the I-77 contract between NCDOT and Cintra, a Spanish company with an uneven history. “Our state legislative representatives must lead the way. There is a lot at stake for the future of our region. It’s critical that this late effort succeed,” Washam said.

The $650-million project has caused a tidal wave of dissent in the business community and among residents.

Indeed, the elections last week were a watershed moment in North Meck politics. Swain was a four-term incumbent; McAulay a former mayor as well as a commissioner.

“Many feel that Raleigh has failed to listen and it is very clear that the only path to a resolution on the single, largest issue in North Mecklenburg and South Iredell counties is to put the stakeholders together with the governor and NCDDOT, those who have the ability to act according to the communities’ wishes,” said Jeter, a former Huntersville commissioner.

“There have been a lot of media communications for the past year between the parties so I think it’s time we all sit down at the same table for a real discussion with real solutions,” Jeter said.

The date of the summit has not been set.

McCrory has suggested to Jeter the members to be invited to the meeting “so that we can hold full discussions with the affected areas of the toll project,” Jeter said. The meeting will likely be open to the press, but some portions may be closed because of contract discussions.

Based on the recent municipal elections, Jeter will be inviting the following in addition to the CRTPO members:

 Charlotte Mayor-Elect Jennifer Roberts

 Cornelius Mayor Chuck Travis

 Davidson Mayor John Woods

 Huntersville Mayor-Elect John Aneralla

 Mooresville Mayor Miles Atkins

 N. C. State Senator Jeff Tarte

 N.C. State Senator David Curtis

 N.C. State Representative John Bradford

 N.C. State Representative John Fraley

 Council Member Julie Eiselt, Charlotte

 Commissioner Woody Washam, Cornelius

 Commissioner Beth Cashion, Davidson

 Commissioner Danny Phillips, Huntersville

 Commissioner Bobby Compton, Mooresville

Jeter said his office will confirm the date and time of the meeting and coordinate a location in northern Mecklenburg.

 

“I think this summit provides us the most expedited opportunity for all parties related to this project a means to reach a consensus moving forward. We have a lot of very capable and intelligent people so I feel confident we will make progress,” Jeter said.

Jeter telegraphed his opposition to the toll plan on a TV talk show Sunday. He had previously helped the toll plan along, like a number of other legislators who listened to what North Mecklenburg town officials wanted three, four and five years ago.

Rep. Bill Brawley, co-chairman of the appropriations committee, pointed out that officials in the three towns of North Mecklenburg had previously endorsed the toll plan, with a few exceptions, like Commissioner Dave Gilroy in Cornelius and Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jim Puckett.

Of course, the plan changed over time, and certain provisions of the 900-page contract were weighted in favor of  Cintra, a company with roots in Spain. For one thing, it made easy on-off from the toll lanes to West Catawba Avenue/Exit 28 virtually impossible.

People like Kurt Naas, the founder of anti-toll group WidenI-77, and John “Mac” McAlpine, the organizer of the I-77 Call to Action at Michael Waltrip Raceworld last spring, helped galvanize the business community.

A group of anti-toll strategists that includes Puckett, Naas, McAlpine, former LKN Chamber chairman John Hettwer, Chamber CEO Bill Russell, current Chairman Mike Russell, racing executive Greg Wallace and insurance executive Denis Bilodeau meets weekly to fight the tolls.

 

 

Discussion

One Response to “Jeter’s I-77 summit will bring top decision-makers together soon”

  1. Jeter needs to invite Jim Puckett, Mecklenburg County Commissioner; Pat Cotham, Mecklenburg County Commissioner; Dave Gilroy, Commissioner Town of Cornelius; Kurt Naas of Widen I77; John (Mac) MacAlpine; Nils Lucander; Mike Russell, Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce; Jake Pallilo; and Vince Winegardner.

    Posted by William Rakatansky | November 10, 2015, 12:54 am

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