Locals still pushing for cancellation of I-77 toll lane project

- Six months from now construction is scheduled to be over and the toll lanes will be open along I-77. We're two and a half years in, but things could all change this summer.

We asked North Carolina Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon how much it would cost to cancel the contract with the Spanish company Cintra.

"That's hard to answer at this point because there are so many paths to do that. It's premature for me to even speculate."

He'll have the answer by the end of July. Secretary Trogdon says he'll take Thursday’s official recommendations from the I-77 Advisory Group and create a roadmap.

Everyone except for two representatives from Charlotte agreed to cancel the contract with the Cintra and eliminate one of the toll lanes. That would open up three general purpose lanes all the way from Mooresville to I-485.

A member of the group, Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jim Puckett, says "this group has embraced the idea of accepting a toll road, even though we don't want it, as a means of financially getting out of this. It's a massive compromise on our part."

A compromise Commissioner Puckett says will help pay for canceling the 50-year contract.

"The North Carolina Turnpike Authority, which manages every other toll lane in North Carolina, will manage the getting of the tolls and the repayment of the financials. We would have to repay the current debt and through bonds or loans through DOT or the state, we would have to pay for whatever it takes to get out of this contract."

Thursday’s meeting with Secretary Trogdon was the last of seven meetings since January of this year.

We asked Secretary Trogdon about if the recommendations are viable.

"Absolutely. Without a doubt."

We'll see what he comes back with at the end of July.

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