I-77 toll lane project to be delayed months, officials say

MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — The I-77 toll lane project has been a traffic nightmare, and I-77 Mobility Partners announced Wednesday that the project will be delayed months.

Officials said the northern section of the project, from just north of Hambright Road to exit 36 in Mooresville, is now scheduled to open within the first quarter of 2019. The entire 26-mile stretch is now slated to open in summer 2019.

[9 Investigates: I-77 toll lane reported issues increased by hundreds since 2015]

“I-77 Mobility Partners set an ambitious goal for itself to open lanes by the end of 2018. In collaboration with Sugar Creek Construction and NCDOT, we have made significant progress to improve this important corridor. We are adjusting our timeline due to factors like expanded project scope and unforeseen weather events,” Javier Tamargo, CEO of I-77 Mobility Partners, said in a news release.

Channel 9 learned Cintra, the company overseeing the project, will not face any fines due to the delay.

"At this point, I've just gotten used to it,” driver Justin Taylor said.

Officials said if the project does not meet the Nov. 1, 2019, deadline in the contract, Cintra would face a $10,000 a day fine.

Previously, I-77 Mobility Partners have said there will be a discount on tolls if sections aren't open by Jan. 7.

Some drivers told Channel 9 they’ve altered their routes around the construction, while others say they’ve been forced to adjust their entire schedule.

“I know all the back roads,” driver Demarcus McCracken said.

"I know that if I want to get somewhere on time I have to leave an hour early just to see how traffic is,” driver Diarra Rice said.

The initial goal was to open the toll roads by the end of the year. I-77 Mobility Partners said the pushback on completion to summer 2019 is due to expanding the project scope and unforeseen weather events.

"Honestly, it needs to hurry up though,” McCracken said.

For drivers, the delay means more traffic backups for much longer.

"It could take anywhere between five to 30 minutes, and that's just 2 miles,” Taylor said.

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