MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — UPDATE: The state House voted late Thursday night to not concur with Sen. Jeff Tarte's amendment, which is now going to a committee.
The committee will decide compromise.
NC Senate passes measure that sets aside millions to cancel I-77 toll project
The North Carolina Senate just upped the ante for the Interstate 77 toll lanes.
Senate members passed a bill Thursday that would give Gov. Roy Cooper until October to cancel or change the contract.
They also earmarked more than $600 million to do it.
Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jim Puckett told Channel 9 Thursday night that it's clear the House and Senate agree the I-77 toll lane project needs to be scrapped.
"I'm encouraged both by the House and the Senate fully understands this is a contract that needs to be ended," Puckett said.
Construction on the controversial 26-mile long toll project is well underway, but that hasn't kept opponents from trying to stop it.
On Tuesday, Channel 9 reported House lawmakers were asking for up to $300 million to modify or cancel the project.
The state Senate doubled down two days later by passing a bill with an amendment that frees up $620 million and gives the governor until October to change the contract or cancel it altogether.
"I totally support no tolls," Sen. Jeff Tarte, R-Mecklenburg, said.
Tarte, who sponsored the amendment, said this is the first real chance of eliminating all tolls and keeping the new lanes for general purpose traffic.
"This is the first real option to fund getting rid of them and going to eight pure general-purpose lanes in the heart of the congestions in the Lake Norman area," Tarte said.
The funding to change or cancel the project would ultimately come from taxpayers, unlike the current private deal.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation will decide the project's future this summer.
Cox Media Group