Temporary Restraining Order plan stalls; I-77 work begins at 10 pm




Nov 16By Dave Yochum. Sen. Jeff Tarte over the weekend said there was no forward motion in getting a Temporary Restraining Order in time to stop construction of the I-77 toll lanes which begins at 10 pm.

Tarte huddled with other members of the I-77 Business Plan—a group of key anti-toll business and political leaders—and two attorneys after the Panthers game Sunday.

I-77 Business Plan members include former Lake Norman Chamber Chairman John Hettwer, Aquesta Insurance President Denis Bilodeau, race team executive Greg Wallace, Emergency Call to Action organizer Mac McAlpine, WidenI-77 founder Kurt Naas, Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jim Puckett, and the chamber chair and CEO, respectively, Mike Russell and Bill Russell.



In order to bring a TRO the four legislators and/or Business Plan members would have to file suit. The only suit at the moment is one brought by, so a TRO is not likely.

So, it looks like construction really does start tonight. (SEE I-77 MOBILITY SCHEDULE BELOW) NCDOT’s contract with I-77 Mobility calls for $10,000 a day damages if the new lanes are not completed on time.

Charlotte is in control

Business leaders say the best option around fighting the tolls is political. Gov. Pat McCrory has said he will cancel the contract if the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization says it doesn’t want it.

That’s a crap-shoot, however. The only vote there that matters, of course, is Charlotte’s, because the city has a weighted vote that dwarfs even a combined effort by cities and towns around transportation planning issues.

With recent changes in Charlotte leadership, however, top-level business leaders, who meet each Tuesday to strategize on how to fight the tolls, are hoping a directed vote could happen as early as next month.

View from afar

Meanwhile, the Charlotte Observer has criticized local political leaders who stood together at Friday press conference, underscoring potholes in the $650 million public-private partnership between NCDOT and Cintra, a Spanish-owned company.

The editorial said “toll opponents’ concerns are valid,” but so are concerns about costs associated with canceling the contract, as well as a suitable way to fund roughly 26 miles of new general purpose lanes.

“Until someone supplies real answers, press conferences and letters and lawsuit threats won’t block anything—except perhaps the next drubbing at the polls for a Lake Norman incumbent,” the Observer editorialized.

Diane Gilroy’s letter


GILROY will meet Cintra in court in January. Separately, political officials are praising efforts by a private citizen, Diane Gilroy of Cornelius, to uncover corruption in Cintra’s and parent company Ferrovial’s history. At the press conference, the legislators said she traveled to Spain on her own to investigate the companies.

Gilroy, whose husband Dave is a Cornelius Town Commissioner who was an early and vocal critic of the toll plan, attended a lightly attended fundraiser for Gov. Pat McCrory at a private home in October and handed McCrory a detailed letter with a variety of concerns and complaints about Cintra and its parent company, Ferrovial, based in Spain. (To view the letter, click here.)

The governor has not responded, although he did take pains to respond quickly—and negatively—to the letter that came from the four legislators three days ago.

RELATED: NCDOT’s response to legislators letter to the Governor

Where does Travis stand?



The Gilroys were apparently the only members of the Cornelius Town Board to attend the McCrory fundraiser at the end of John Gamble Road, although Mayor Chuck Travis was there.

RELATED: I-77 Business Plan organizers create roadmap for anti-toll voters

Travis is taking his share of criticism publicly and privately for what looks like tepid support for the anti-toll movement. One member of the I-77 Business Plan, a leading member of the business community, said he was “extremely disappointed” in the mayor’s absence at the press conference where literally dozens of politicians stood shoulder to shoulder as TV cameras were rolling. Mayor-elect John Aneralla from Huntersville attended; Davidson Mayor John Woods did not.

Travis was in Charleston on business Thursday and Friday of last week.

NMB_Griffin_EblastCommissioner Gilroy suggested that if the mayor’s opinions are not in line with residents and business leaders, he should consider stepping down.

Travis would not comment, but said he would issue a press release this week.

Racing executive Greg Wallace—his father is racing legend Rusty Wallace—is a senior member of the I-77 Business Plan. He posted this on the Exit 28 Ridiculousness Facebook page on Friday:

“Earlier today, I sent a certified letter to Chuck Travis, Mayor of Cornelius, asking him–for the third time–to complete the I-77 Business Plan survey and also to provide the citizens of Cornelius with an explanation for his absence from today’s event with Jeff Tarte. His constituents–and even his entire town council–are overwhelmingly against the toll lanes project.

Travis’ responses will be posted on “if/when they are received,” Wallace said.

Travis has kept his cards close to his vest. In an interview with Business Today this past summer, he had a thinking man’s response to questions about the toll plan.

Essentially, he said he is not in favor of the contract, there needs to be congestion relief soon, and tolls, in theory can help manage highway usage.

I don’t like the 50-year term and wish it was a state controlled facility…..I am not against the managed lanes concept,” he said.

Neither Woods nor Jill Swain, the incumbent mayor of Huntersville, responded to the Wallace survey. But Aneralla did, as well as the winning commission candidates in Huntersville and all the candidates in Cornelius.

I-77 toll lane construction schedule

I-77-Mobility-Partners-LogoLake Norman region will begin this Monday, November 16, 2015. Construction will occur in the median of I-77 with minimal disruption to commuters. Occasional lane shifts and lane closures will only take place in overnight hours (typically 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. approximately). However, with day and night activity in the work zone, motorists should drive safely and stay alert at all times.

Lane Closures:

Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings at all times when traveling through a construction zone.

Northbound I-77

Expect segments of the right lane from south of Exit 23 to north of Exit 28 to be closed Monday, Nov. 16from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. approximately.

Expect segments of the right lane from south of Exit 23 to north of Exit 28 to be closed Thursday, Nov. 19 from 12:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. approximately.

Expect segments of the left lane from south of Exit 23 to north of Exit 28 to be closed Thursday, Nov. 19from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. approximately.

Southbound I-77

Expect segments of the right lane from north of Exit 28 to south of Exit 23 to be closed on Tuesday, Nov. 17 from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. approximately.

Expect segments of the right lane from north of Exit 28 to south of Exit 23 to be closed Thursday, Nov. 19from 12:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. approximately.

Expect segments of the right lane from north of Exit 23 to south of Exit 23 to be closed on Saturday, Nov. 21 from 12:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. approximately.

Expect segments of the left lane from north of Exit 28 to south of Exit 23 to be closed on Saturday, Nov. 21 from 11:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m. approximately.

Expect segments of the left lane from north of Exit 28 to south of Exit 23 to be closed on Sunday, Nov. 22from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. approximately.

*In consideration of Thanksgiving holiday travel, there will be no construction activities from Tuesday, Nov. 24 at 5:00 a.m. to Sunday, Nov 29.

Visit our website for more information about Traffic Notices.

NCDOT Work Zone Driving Tips

STAY ALERT: Dedicate your full attention to the roadway.

PAY CLOSE ATTENTION: Signs and work zone flaggers save lives.

TURN ON YOUR HEADLIGHTS: Workers and other motorists must see you.


DON’T SPEED: Note the posted speed limits in and around the work zone.



MINIMIZE DISTRACTIONS: Avoid changing radio stations and using mobile phones while driving in the work zone.

EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED: Keep an eye out for workers and their equipment.

BE PATIENT: Remember the work zone crew members are working to improve your future ride


3 Responses to “Temporary Restraining Order plan stalls; I-77 work begins at 10 pm”

  1. If Diane Gilroy’s research is accurate (and I have no reason to believe it’s not), any judge seeing this detail will throw out the signed contract.
    Thanks Diane Gilroy’s for putting this together. Governor McCroray should have cancelled the contract after verifying just a few of your discoveries.

    Posted by John Blakely | November 16, 2015, 10:29 pm
  2. Why hasn’t Nick Tennyson of the NCDOT provided evidence of inaccuracies (as he claims) in the letter drafted and sent to Pat McCrory asking for McCrory to halt the toll lanes project? Why hasn’t McCrory’s office responded with evidence of those supposed inaccuracies? A response was promised and was never released. Why is this administration digging its heels in against the residents of the areas effected. The public was never given the opportunity to vote on these toll lanes, until the recent local elections in which the pro-toll candidates were voted out of their respective offices. Give us the opportunity to weigh-in via a direct vote as opposed to a symbolic vote (which should be enough to show how we, the tax paying residents, feel about the toll lanes). Again, why are these folks so against their constituents over this issue? Do they stand to somehow lose some of their own money? Or promised personal “earnings” if the deal is completed? CINTRA claims to have spent $2 million on this project before even the first work truck ever showed up. Who received that money? It certainly wasn’t the construction contractors. Is THIS why Tennyson and McCrory are so “pro-CINTRA”? Do we, as residents of NC, want our tax dollars going to Spain? Do we want any toll monies collected going to Spain? That’s CINTRA. And THAT’S the deal OUR NCDOT is fighting to keep alive. What’s in it for them?

    Posted by Adrian Wilamowski | November 17, 2015, 3:29 pm
  3. The NC DOT and the governor who is in their pocket need to leave NC

    Posted by Dick Delinger | February 10, 2016, 2:21 pm

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