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Judge rules against anti-toll group; battle moves to CRTPO

featured_NaasPressConferenceJan. 8. By Dave Yochum. Judge Osmond Smith has ruled in favor of I-77 Mobility Partners and NCDOT in the WidenI-77 lawsuit. Saying it is a policy decision from the legislature, and that tolls on I-77 are not unconstitutional, the judge said different people may have different views about the project.

It means the matter will be decided by the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization at its Jan. 20 meeting, if not the state legislature—and even the governor—at some point.

The Charlotte City Council will meet Jan. 11, and direct Councilwoman Vi Lyles’ vote.

Referring to pro-toll elected officials, County Commissioner Pat Cotham said “they might have won the battle, but they didn’t win the war.”

The court system, she said, is part of the process. “In my mind the governor is shirking his duty,” she said. The Lake Norman business community, through the Lake Norman Chamber, has come out solidly against this particular toll plan.

“This isn’t a loss. It is affirmation that the governor is the one who needs to make the decision to cancel the contract,” said John “Mac” McAlpine V, the organizer of what turned out to be a cataclysmic informational business meeting—the I-77 Call to Action—at Michael Waltrip Raceworld last spring. The meeting resulted in the birth of the I-77 Business Plan, a who’s who of business and political leaders that meets every Tuesday afternoon at the chamber offices on West Catawba.

Gov. McCrory has charged the CRTPO with making the decision on the toll plan, which means the Charlotte City Council is in the driver’s seat. Indeed, Charlotte, through Lyles, controls 46 percent of the vote.

“The City Council is getting into this late in the game, and the learning curve is enormous, so I worry about that,” Cotham said.

“Plus they’ve only heard one side of the argument. This is a very complicated issue,” Cotham said.

NC Rep. Charles Jeter along with Rep. John Bradford, Sen. Jeff Tarte and a number of others—Democrat and Republican alike—have authored a letter asking for the Charlotte City Council to direct Lyles to request NCDOT to cancel the $650 million project at the next CRTPO meeting.

“This project has generated a lot of anger and concern in our business community and our neighborhoods. It is time to officially request that NCDOT cancel this project and not take billions of dollars out of our community over the next 50 years,” said Jeter. “Gov. McCrory has asked CRTPO to weigh in on the discussion and we strongly believe that the correct thing to do is to have CRTPO request a cancellation of the contract. Once that is done, under NC General Statute 136- 66.2(d) the decision will go back to Gov. McCrory and the NCDOT for final action.”

In the letter, the legislators made it clear that this is not a referendum on managed lanes or the region’s current transportation plan.

“It is a request to cancel what is almost universally agreed to as a bad contract. The legislators submitted North Carolina and Federal Statutes in the letter to ensure that the City Council is aware that CRTPO clearly has the legal right to request a cancellation of this contract and not be forced to vote on any other items,” Jeter said.

Discussion

9 Responses to “Judge rules against anti-toll group; battle moves to CRTPO”

  1. Glad to hear Judge Osmond Smith has ruled in favor of I-77 Mobility Partners and NCDOT in the WidenI-77 lawsuit. No one wants tolls, and it does sound like a better contract could have been negotiated, but at the end of the day, 77 needs to be widened. I don’t trust any local politician trying to say we can get 77 widened in the near-term after canceling this contract and paying the penalties for canceling the contract. If we go another 10 years without 77 being widened, quality of life north of Charlotte will be greatly impacted. Let’s move forward and widen 77.

    Posted by Lisa Lippiner | January 8, 2016, 10:08 pm
  2. Completely agree with Lisa’s comments….right on target. It is past time for North Meck politicians and amateur Kurt Nass to act like adults. The stop I77 toll opposition cannot say there is a firm alternative… just cross their fingers and hope. The traffic problem is a daily nighmare right now not 5 years from now. Hope the progress on Toll lanes will motivate politicians to address other issues like education, jobs and taxes….rather than tolls.

    Posted by Larry Boppe | January 9, 2016, 12:19 am
  3. Charles Jeter endorsed the Toll Lanes and shepherded the approval of this debacle through the legislature. Now. he proposes to be our savior. It’s not unlike claiming you are a hero for saving a drowning child that you threw into the pool in the first place. Replace this duplicitous political tool !

    Posted by Nic Dempsey | January 9, 2016, 5:30 pm
  4. The problem with this plan is that the ONLY lanes being built are the two toll lanes which will be excessivly expensive to use for daily commuters. If the toll lanes were being added in addition to two general purpose lanes then I don’t think anyone would have batted an eye. The most egregious part of the contract is the prohibition against the state being able to add lanes at a later date should traffic realities call for it if it will possibly have a negative impact on Centra’s income from the toll lanes. I’ve always been a McCrory supporter but his connection to the firm that lobbied the state for Centra is more than a little disturbing. If like for there to be a serious investigation into who, what, where and how much was involved in assigning this contract. There is just too much smoke for there not to be some kind of fire underneath this.

    Posted by Eric Wilkins | January 9, 2016, 5:30 pm
  5. Cintra will own the “air space above the right-of-way” according to I77Mobiliy Partners attorney. This is unacceptable and frightening. The air is the future, not the ground. For cars or pods built on tracks above ground that cost $1M per mile to build. That’s 443miles per one mile built Light rail hat can’t get done. Cintra ownes our road travel on I77 for 50 years. Any competing technology or change they must approve and can bill for lost revenue. We have so,d our future to Spain. Anyone who thinks this plan will in any way free up general purpose lanes and stop oaf congestion in the future has not researched managed lanes an the created bottlenecks here. Charlotte stopped widening at the city border on I77 causing Lake Norman years of suffering, accidents to date. It’s time or Charlotte to fix this mess by telling CRTPO NO to managed lanes and NO to this Cintra/I77Mobility Partners contract.

    Posted by Anette powell | January 9, 2016, 9:36 pm
  6. I simply cannot believe there are people so misinformed as Lisa Lippinier.

    Posted by Heather Feathers | January 9, 2016, 11:30 pm
  7. Heather Feathers there are issues with the contract. But, simply saying that CLT needs to fix it won’t get the lanes widened. CLT waited eons to get 485 completed; road money in NC often goes to other parts of the state. Funding for roads is dwindling in general because gas tax isn’t covering the expense anymore, and that issue is projected to get much worse over the next 20 years as we transition away from gas vehicles. Managed lanes work in other metros and they can work here…..it will be better than no expansion to 77. Yes, we should be angry at the politicians who negotiated this contract…..but I have yet to hear anyone with knowledge in the matter say they think our stretch of 77 would be prioritized for expansion based on the current formula used to make these decisions. I firmly believe this is our best bet.

    Posted by Lisa Lippiner | January 9, 2016, 11:48 pm
  8. the north corridor has been screwed again. First, it was the hope of the light rail, the saviour for our travel dilemnas, then that was stripped away, gone for good. Now, we have to pay to travel in a timely fashion, for some monstrocity of a project with a monstrous budget, when all we ever needed was one extra lane for about 10 miles, less than 20 million to build. I guess that was just too conservative and reasonable. So dissappointing to see our gov’t running us out of money on all sides of the issue. JUST DISGUSTED ! and by the way NCDOT SUCKS, always has. That agency that needs to be run out of NC on a rail.

    Posted by KPR-Mooresville | January 10, 2016, 1:23 am
  9. Lisa sounds like Charles Jeter. At a public meeting in 2013, Jeter said “While, ( HOT ( toll ) lanes are ) not perfect, we can not let the perfect destroy the good.” He was following the lead of his mentor Thom Tillis, who, when Speaker, said ” If you knew what I and other state officials know, you wouldn’t oppose the ( toll lane )project “

    Posted by Nic Dempsey | January 10, 2016, 8:59 pm

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