Widen I-77 group presents analysis of the toll lane project, points out flaws

Controversy continues to swirl around the I-77 toll lane project. On Thursday night, the group Widen I-77 hosted a meeting to point out the flaws they find with the plan as it stands now. 

The Widen I-77 group hasn't hosted a meeting for nearly one year but officials say Thursday's town hall came after the company set to build the I-77 tolling lanes filed for bankruptcy on a project in Texas. 

The Widen I-77 group presented an analysis of the toll lane project during a town hall meeting at the Cornelius Town Hall.

The presentation highlighted common features of private tolling projects from all over the country...and compared it to the project in North Carolina.

"At the end of the day it's pretty clear that this is a method of Cintra and how they do business," said John Hettwer, chair of I-77 business plan.

"It's a misuse of money. And we need to pay attention that no matter if you're Democrat or Republican everybody needs to pay attention to how the big money is being spent," said Nils Lucander, who is against the toll lanes. 

Widen I-77 supporters say that they weren't surprised to see that Cintra, the company set to build the toll lanes, filed for bankruptcy on its Texas toll project.

"We should learn and be grateful the states of Texas and Indiana and these other states have taken the hit so we don't have to - but yet it seems like we're going down the same primrose path."

Although NCDOT says Cintra's contract on the I-77 toll lanes does protect taxpayers from any financial losses, Widen I-77 leaders say they're not so sure. 

They claim the local economy will lose money over the lifetime of the contract. 

"This contract is so bad for the citizens of Lake Norman that the citizens are solidly saying we need to cancel this contract."

Supporters agree the road should be changed, but think the state should get out before it's too late. 

"Every single study that's been done by the NCDOT is that the road is almost 200 percent overcapacity. There's dangers, there's people every single day and accidents, it's ridiculous. It shouldn't take that long to travel."

NCDOT officials said at the request of the governor the agency is reviewing every available option, both legal and financial, to reassess the I-77 mobility partner's business model and current contract. 

More on their presentation here.


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