New I-77 toll lane map sparks controversy

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A new map with big changes to the I-77 toll lane project came out and it seems people who should have known about these changes found out after the map was distributed.

"It's a continual saga of a debacle that never ends," said Pat Cotham, Mecklenburg County Commissioner.

That pretty much sums it up for how Commissioner Cotham feels about the I-77 toll lane project.

Cotham says she got an email earlier this week from the developer of the toll lanes. With it - a new map - showing additional access points to and from the toll lanes between exit 28 in Cornelius and exit 30 in Davidson as well connectivity to I-85.

"I didn't remember hearing about these changes and then I thought I must have missed the reporting on it or the story about it."

There was no story - that is until she posted it on Facebook.

Fox 46 Charlotte did not receive a press release about the new map or changes to the project.

"This is pretty lame that they're extending the information out by sending an email out to county commissioners. That disappointed me, but didn't surprise me."

We asked I-77 Mobility Partners how and why these changes were made and if it would affect the price and timeline of the project.

They replied saying, "The I-77 express lanes are a design-build project, meaning that we are able to evaluate and make improvements during delivery of the lanes. The cost of the project is unchanged, and we are on schedule to open by the end of 2018."

The developer declined an interview for this story. The spokesperson for I-77 mobility partners - Jean Leier - left 7 of our 11 questions unanswered.

When we sent a follow up email asking that they answer the other 7 questions, we received an out of office response.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation sent us this statement:

 

Unlike traditional design-bid-build, where a project is fully designed before a contract is awarded for construction, with design-build, design and construction are awarded under one contract. This process allows for changes in the design  - in this instance, addressing local concerns. The original design didn't have as many access points, and after hearing concerns from local officials and residents, the design was modified to address those concerns and provide additional access points for the express lanes.”

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