Gov. McCrory calls for review of I-77 toll lane project

- Governor McCrory has called for a full review of the controversial I-77 toll lane project. 

A review has been launched because Cintra, a private Spanish company who has the contract for the work, just filed for bankruptcy on a project in Texas Wednesday. 

As a result, Gov. McCrory has ordered NCDOT to review every available option, both legal and financial, to reassess the entire I-77 mobility partner's business model and current contract.

NCDOT officials said they will be flying to Austin, Texas on Monday to meet with Texas DOT representatives to assess the situation.

Construction on the controversial project has already started and is set to cost $650 million. A completion date for the 26-mile stretch has been scheduled for 2018.

The project has meet fierce resistance from local municipalities and groups who say the toll lanes aren't necessary, and there are too many questions about Cintra. 

“This bankruptcy filing is proof that the toll lane business model, like we’re using on I-77, is flawed. Widen I-77 reiterates our request to the governor to cancel the contract before more taxpayer dollars are put at risk," said Kurt Naas, Board Member of Widen I-77, in a written statement.
 
In February, Charlotte City Council voted in support of the project, and the Charlotte Regional Transportation Organization voted to reaffirm its support of the project as well.

Following Cintra's announcement NCDOT Secretary Nick Tennyson released this statement: 

“Late today, we were notified of the bankruptcy filing in Texas. The governor has directed us to immediately review every available option – both legal and financial - to reassess the I-77 Mobility Partner’s business model and current contract. Therefore, I will be going to Austin on Monday to meet with Texas DOT representatives to assess the situation. It is important to note that the current contract protects taxpayers from financial losses."

I-77 Mobility Partners also released a statement Wednesday: 

"Today’s filing by the SH 130 Concession Company has no financial impact on I-77 Mobility Partners LLC, or the construction and operation of the I-77 Express Lanes. While Cintra is an equity sponsor of both projects, each project maintains a separate financial structure. This matter has not impacted our construction schedule and we look forward to continuing our work here in North Carolina."

Statement from Ned Curran, NC Board of Transportation Chairman:

“The Governor has directed the Secretary to take immediate action to review available options-both legal and financial- to assess any impact on I-77 Mobility Partners’ business model and current contract to protect the taxpayers of North Carolina.

It’s unfortunate the attorney general is making a reckless, knee-jerk political statement on a contract that from day one his own office reviewed and had no problem with.”

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