Lawmakers pass transportation bill without addressing I-77 tolls project

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Drivers frustrated with the I-77 tolls project saw a glimmer of hope as state lawmakers pushed a bill to help cancel the contract, but Friday that hope was taken away.

The North Carolina House passed a transportation bill Friday, but it removed all language in an amendment that would have funded changing or canceling the I-77 tolls contract.

Channel 9's Joe Bruno broke the news on Twitter.

Rep. Chaz Beasley, of Mecklenburg County, also addressed the issue on Twitter saying, "Disappointing that my amendment to study funding options for canceling or modifying the I-77 contract, which passed overwhelmingly in the House, was removed."

On Wednesday, House lawmakers passed an amendment to set aside up to $300 million to modify or cancel the project.

On Thursday, the Senate passed a bill with an amendment freeing up $620 million and giving the governor until October to change or cancel the contract.

Then the House voted not to concur with the amendment, so it went back to a committee.

On Friday, all the language about the tolls was stripped from the bill.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation secretary has been collecting public input from an advisory committee to decide about the contract.

Gov. Roy Cooper also addressed the I-77 tolls project Friday.

"I think the secretary of transportation, if he has the flexibility, can find a way to fix this problem to the satisfaction to most of the people,” Cooper said.

The governor said the secretary of transportation is still on track to make a decision about the toll lane project by the end of the summer.

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