NC Court of Appeals hears arguments to stop I-77 widening project

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Construction continues on Interstate 77 but there's still an incredible amount of backlash. Many people are hoping judges will stop the project.

The fate of the Interstate 77 toll lane project is now in the hands of three court of appeals judges

Widen I-77 finished up arguing in Raleigh Wednesday that the I-77 toll lane contract is unconstitutional and the project doesn't serve a public purpose.

An attorney for North Carolina Department of Transportation said the public purpose is to provide a reliable travel time not to ease congestion.

Judges also questioned an attorney for the I-77 Mobility Partners about the company's ability to charge any price to use the toll lane.

DOCUMENT: Read more about Widen I-77's argument

"North Carolina law requires a public project to primarily serve the public interest and what we are arguing is 50 years of private tolls, where a private company profits off of public misery, does not serve the public interest," Kurt Naas, of Widen I-77, said.

Last January, Widen I-77's arguments were rejected by a Mecklenburg County judge.

Naas isn't concerned about that happening again.

"Lower court judges are reluctant sometimes to rule on constitutionality, or big sweeping issues, so really what we think is he kicked this up to the higher court," Naas said.

Construction of the controversial project has been going on for more than a year. Once complete the toll lanes will stretch from uptown Charlotte to Mooresville for 26 miles.

Complaints against the project continue.

A Channel 9 viewer sent photos showing dust from construction trucks making it nearly impossible for drivers on the busy interstate to see.

NCDOT said it is addressing the problem.

Many people feel the answer isn't tolls.

"It's like they didn't even listen to the voters or anything," Tyrone Mongo said. "It's like they pushed it through and shoved it down our throats"

NCDOT declined to comment on the pending lawsuit. I-77 Mobility Partners did not return a request for comment.

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