Drivers anticipate how Gov.-elect Roy Cooper will handle I-77 tolls

Drivers who voted against Pat McCrory because he supported the I-77 tolls are anxiously waiting to see how the new governor will handle the controversial project.

"He needs to put it at the top of his list of things to do. Otherwise he's going to be a one term governor," driver Thomas Stainkamp said.

"They certainly do have my ear on this," Governor-elect Roy Cooper said.

In an exclusive interview last week, Cooper told Channel 9 he's listening to those voters.

"They certainly do have my ear on this." Cooper said, "We want to look at what the alternatives are."

On Wednesday, the head of state transportation said if Cooper is planning any changes he hasn't heard about them.

"There's been no discussion of that project," Transportation Secretary Nick Tennyson said.

Even so, there's no guarantee Tennyson would stay in his current position once Cooper takes office or what the governor-elect's final plan will be.

While the future of the project is shrouded in uncertainty, toll construction continues to move forward.

"It's on time, and the budget is a fixed cost, so whatever issue by budget wouldn't be a North Carolina Department of Transportation risk," Tennyson said.

Tennyson said he's still trying to improve the project and the contract after hearing from local mayors and officials.

"We are in negotiations right now. Even now, I'm trying to make sure we deliver what we promised," Tennyson said.

When it comes to the tolls, drivers, such as Stainkamp, want to see Cooper take action soon.

"I don't know what he can do but if he can cancel the project with the tolls and just transition into some project where we just have a widened interstate, that'd be good," Stainkamp said.

Some worry the project may be too far along to stop but they say it's the time of year when anyone can hold to hope.

"Maybe just a little bit, It's Christmas!" Stainkamp laughed.

Channel 9 reached out to Cooper for an updated statement on the tolls but are still waiting to hear back from him.

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