I-77 toll lane project advisory board hosts first public meeting

- For the first time the public is being allowed inside an advisory meeting for the I-77 toll lane project. The meeting focused on options for the future of the project.

"Look at how we could change the way the road would be used, the pluses and negatives of those changes and how much it would cost to make those changes and determine what the best course of action could be," said Jim Puckett, a member of the I-77 Advisory Group and Mecklenburg County Commissioner.

The group listened to several different options of how to move forward with canceling the contract with Cintra, modifying it, or keeping it as is.

"Today was to really make the point that no matter what direction you go, there are consequences for costs and timing for approval. Now the committee has to give direction to what requires more detailed analysis," said James Taylor with Mercator Advisors.

To change the project could cost millions and delay opening the extra lanes.

"This is a long-term process, but I think getting it right is vitally important. I don't mind delaying a year or two than dealing with a poor design for 50 years," said Puckett.

This is the second meeting for the I-77 Advisory Group; the first to be open to the public.

“I think it's good that the public was able to be here and observe. I'm glad they were kept out of the conversation because you can't have a productive meeting if everyone is putting their two cents in," said Janis Greco, a member of the public from Mooresville.

The next meeting is set to next night Thursday at 6. They're debating whether or not to move it to a larger space in order to allow more

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