Local leaders want delay on proposed I-77 toll-lane project

by: Erica Bryant Updated:


CHARLOTTE - State lawmakers are pushing for more oversight of the Interstate 77 toll-lane project, and Eyewitness News found out some local leaders want to push the pause button on the plans.

"I think we need to pause and verify it and see if it's the right thing to do,” said Cornelius Mayor Pro Tem Woody Washam on Tuesday night.
Washam is one of several local leaders from across Lake Norman asking to delay plans to build toll lanes.
"Anytime you enter into a 50-year contract, it just makes sense that you're doing the right thing for the citizens,’ said Washam.
Officials said the state could sign the closing as early as Wednesday. That is the next big step to have a private company build toll lanes between uptown Charlotte and Mooresville.
Washam and other elected officials from across Lake Norman signed a letter and emailed it to Gov. Pat McCrory’s office this week asking to delay those plans because of concerns over the cost of tolls and transparency over the deal.
This all comes just weeks after Eyewitness News exposed a state transportation report which showed that traveling round-trip from Mooresville to Charlotte would cost drivers just over $20 per day. The report predicted that by the year 2035, it would double to $42 per day.
State Sen. Jeff Tarte told Channel 9 on Tuesday night he does not want to delay the plans but he does want a group to review the deal between the state and Cintra -- the company on tap to build the lanes.
"We have total transparency this way, so nobody feels like something is getting signed and the public doesn't have access to the information,” said Tarte.  “I want this to be totally transparent."
The North Carolina Department of Transportation sent an email on Tuesday saying the amount we found in the documents could be changing.

The DOT said it has new, updated information on toll costs and travel time for drivers between Mooresville and uptown. The DOT said it will not release those numbers until it finalizes its agreement with Cintra, the company planning to build the toll lanes.  That is expected to happen by the end of the month.

The DOT said it is not required to reveal the toll cost and traffic estimates from the most recent study by Cintra before the contract is signed.