LKN Transportation Commission blasts NCDOT over I-77 mess

LKN Transportation Commission blasts NCDOT over I-77 mess

May 13. By Dave Vieser. While the members of the Lake Norman Regional Transportation Commission did not take any formal action regarding the I-77 toll lane controversy at their meeting tonight in Davidson, there was no lack of criticism for the state DOT on their handling of the project’s contract with Cintra(I77 Mobility Partners), the private firm chosen to build the toll lanes.

“We have been working hard to improve communications and transparency with the DOT, but in this instance, the communication stank,” said Bill Coxe, Huntersville’s Transportation Director. “This is a setback.”

Executive Director Bill Thunberg agreed. “Someone needs to add some clarity to the process and explain how it could have happened.”

The issue which has brought the project to the boiling point among elected and municipal officials in the Lake Norman area is the fact that the Cintra contract limits the region’s ability to undertake north-south road improvements which might diminish Cintra’s revenue from the new I-77 toll lanes. The contract says new roads that relieve congestion on I-77 would result in a “Compensation Event” for Cintra. The contract was apparently revised without anyone’s knowledge.

Over the past 10 days, Cornelius commissioners unanimously passed a resolution asking the state to delay a final contract for 90 days, and both the Huntersville and Davidson town boards also passed resolutions expressing their concern with the contract.

Cornelius commissioner Woody Washam, a member of the transportation commission, expressed appreciation to area state representatives who met this week with Governor Pat McCrory about the I-77 project. “Perhaps we can get some clear answers about how this could have happened.”

The state lawmakers are also exploring whether it is feasible to add the I-77 project to McCrory’s proposed $3 billion bond transportation referendum.

Opposition to the toll lane project is widespread in the region. Online polls conducted by Cornelius Today and Business Today during the first 10 days of May indicated over 93 percent of those responding were in favor of imposing a moratorium on the project.


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