New Battle for Control Over the I-77 Toll Lane Project

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – There’s a new battle for control over the controversial I-77 toll lane project.

Local lawmakers filed a bill on Monday that would give control of the contract to Governor Roy Cooper.

“It is an unfair, one-sided deal, and I warned folks not to sign this contract,” said Sen. Natasha Marcus.

A group of local lawmakers say right now the Governor’s hands are tied.

“We all know how bad this deal is for our wallets, for our property values, for our businesses in this area,” Marcus said.

Any changes to the contract would trigger fines.

Right now lawmakers control the purse strings to pay those fines.

The Governor also has to give lawmakers 60 days notice before making any changes.

“We’re trying to spare the rest of the state from making the same mistake that has been made behind us,” said Rep. Chaz Beasley.

Seven months ago State Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon laid out several goals to change the project which runs from Uptown Charlotte to Mooresville.

They include converting one toll lane into a general purpose lane, allowing traffic to drive on the shoulder, and eventually buying out the contract from Spanish-firm Cintra.

Meantime drivers remain frustrated over delays and issues in the toll lane construction zone.

“It’s almost to the point of funny, where drivers are just, gotten so used to the disfunction,” says Michelle Ferlauto, with the Lake Norman Transportation Safety Partnership.

The project was supposed to be done in December but is now scheduled to open this summer.

Even if the bill passes, there’s no guarantee Cintra will even want to negotiate to modify the contract.

We reached out to NCDOT.

A spokesperson sent WCCB Charlotte a statement saying in part “We will follow this bill as it moves through the process… we will remain focused on improving this contract…”