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Company building I-77 tolls files for bankruptcy on Texas project

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The company building the I-77 toll lanes filed for bankruptcy Wednesday on a Texas toll road project, prompting North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory to order officials to review the contract and business model with the I-77 Mobility Partners -- the company currently building the toll lanes between uptown Charlotte and Mooresville.

The SH 130 Concession Company, a partnership between Spain-based Cintra and a San Antonio-based company opened the Texas toll road in 2012.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory directed the North Carolina Department of Transportation to review every available option, legally and financially, to reassess the I-77 Mobility Partner’s business model and contract, NCDOT Sec. Nick Tennyson said in a news release.

I-77 Mobility Partners is a subsidiary of Cintra working on the I-77 toll lane project in Charlotte.

“It is important to note that the current contract protects taxpayers from financial losses," said Tennyson, who will travel to Austin Monday to meet with Texas DOT officials.

Tennyson also said, "the current contract protects taxpayers from financial losses."

Officials in Texas signed a 50 year deal to operate the road. Local media outlets say it suffered from lower than expected traffic and soon experts were warning the company was dangerously close to defaulting before Wednesday’s bankruptcy filing.

On Tuesday, Channel 9 reporter Joe Bruno uncovered how much money the I-77 Mobility Partners are expecting to make from the tolls: $5.1 million in 2018 when the highway opens, and $24.6 million in 2019.

Anti-toll activists are predicting I-77 will end up in a similar situation to what is happening in Central Texas and they are renewing their call for the NCDOT to get out of the deal.

“We should cancel the contract now,” said Kurt Naas with Widen I-77. “We shouldn't' be doing business with a company that has a track record of failure.”

This isn't the first Cintra highway to go bankrupt. Another toll project in Indiana declared bankruptcy in September 2014.

I-77 Mobility Partners Statement:

"Today’s filing by the SH 130 Concession Company has no financial impact on I-77 Mobility Partners LLC, or the construction and operation of the I-77 Express Lanes.

While Cintra is an equity sponsor of both projects, each project maintains a separate financial structure. This matter has not impacted our construction schedule and we look forward to continuing our work here in North Carolina.  For additional information please see the attached Cintra statement."

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