NC House approves bill creating reserve account for I-77 toll lane project

- North Carolina lawmakers voted unanimously, Tuesday, to approve a bill that would create a reserve account under the North Carolina Department of Transportation to pay for changes or the cancellation of the I-77 toll lane contract.

The 112-0 vote approved a $300 million dollar reserve fund that would be taken out of the state’s Highway Fund and Highway Trust Fund.

State Representative (R.) John Bradford, from Lake Norman, represents District 98 and authored the Amendment to H.B. 1029.

“This is monumental because this creates a real possible funding mechanism that doesn’t impact any other projects or any other areas and it’s more of a loan type structure and our project could basically pay for itself over time,” said Rep. Bradford.

The I-77 toll lane project is estimated to cost $650 million dollars. Governor Roy Cooper said he was concerned with the contract and instructed NCDOT to fully review it, meet with residents, and to make a recommendation.

Rep. Bradford said the bill was necessary because there was no plan in place to pay for changes the Governor could ask for in the future.

“What this particular amendment does is creates the reserve account to start having a bucket of money for our area to borrow against and then the future toll revenues would pay for the loan.”

Former NCDOT Secretary Nick Tennyson told FOX 46 Charlotte last year, that the state could lose as much as $800 million dollars if the project was cancelled. A group against the tolls, the I-77 Business Plan, said cancelling the project would cost much less.

Groups that are against the toll lanes said the state has money to widen I-77 instead of adding toll lanes.

Governor Cooper will decide the fate of the project. So far there is no word on when he will make his decision.  

The NC House is set to take a third vote on the amendment Wednesday morning, as required by law. The measure then heads to the senate.

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