Some state lawmakers are stepping up efforts to halt the construction of toll lanes on I-77 north of Charlotte, as construction begins Monday. They called on Governor Pat McCrory Friday to cancel the project, but he wasted little time in rejecting the idea.
State Senator Jeff Tarte of Cornelius and three other Lake Norman area lawmakers demanded the governor terminate a contract with the private company hired to build and manage the $658 million project. At a press conference, Tarte read from a letter they sent to the governor:
“A combination of several important facts have come to light since the contract was signed that we believe materially breached the intent and desire and long-term expectations to move forward with this managed-lanes project."
Tarte repeated opponents’ concerns. He said design of the new lanes would be “below standard” and that if the contractor defaults, the state could be liable for the project’s entire outstanding debt. The lawmakers cited concerns about how the toll lanes would affect local businesses and said recent changes to the state’s road-funding formula could make it feasible to widen I-77 without toll lanes.
The group also is considering seeking a court order to delay the project.
McCrory rejected the lawmakers’ demands, saying any change in the contract would be up to the local transportation planning organization, which approved the project in the first place. The NCDOT said the lawmakers’ letter was “riddled with inaccurate and false claims.”
State Representative Charles Jeter of Huntersville said he hopes McCrory will attend an I-77 summit next week to discuss toll lane alternatives.