McCrory, DOT moving forward with toll lane project despite towns’ wishes

McCrory moves forward with toll lane project despite towns' wishesMay 15. Governor McCrory said yesterday he would not delay the I-77 toll project despite recent resolutions passed by Cornelius, Huntersville and Davidson asking him to do so.

An elected official who was adamantly opposed to toll- lane project reacted bluntly to the governor’s decision to forge ahead. “We’re basically screwed,” he said.

The project is scheduled to open in 2018. Under the terms of the 50-year contract, I-77 Mobility Partners will finance, design, build, and operate private toll lanes along a congested stretch of I-77 north of Charlotte. I-77 Mobility Partners is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Spanish company Cintra. Governor McCrory stated the towns along the corridor requested the project “four or five years ago” and said the state is simply giving the towns what they asked for. “To re-pivot with about a week or two to go I think throws a curve ball that is unreasonable,” said McCrory in a televised interview.

I-77 Mobility Partners is scheduled to have funding in place by May 27, 2015. Under the terms of the contract they were required to secure financing by January 22, 2015 or forfeit a $15 million deposit to the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT). NCDOT and I-77 Mobility Partners have extended the financing deadline three times, with the taxpayer bearing the cost of refinancing the deposit.

Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jim Puckett compared the situation to a death row inmate’s case being re-opened because of new evidence. Puckett said the I-77 situation has changed dramatically over the past four years and therefore the towns have changed their position and despite new evidence, McCrory wants to go ahead with the execution.

NCDOT will be required to pay I-77 Mobility Partners up to $21 million in liquidated damages if the contract is terminated before financial close. Widen I-77 is continuing with its lawsuit to stop the project. A trial date has not been set. Wideni77.Org ( is a citizen’s group dedicated to widening I-77 without tolls. The group believes toll lanes are an expensive, non-solution that will negatively impact the local economy, increase congestion on the general purpose lanes, an unfairly burden drivers.

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