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DOT Chief To Discuss I-77 Options With Local Leaders Wednesday

This former high-occupancy lane over I-85 on I-77 southbound will be widened to carry two toll lanes.
David Boraks
Work continued last month on a bridge that will carry I-77 toll lanes over I-85.

State Transportation Secretary James Trogdon will be in Cornelius Wednesday afternoon to brief the NCDOT's Local Advisory Group on options for modifying the controversial I-77 toll lanes project. The visit comes three months after most local officials in the group backed their own proposal: Buy out the $650 million contract with the private company building the lanes and convert one toll lane to a free lane.

Opposition to the toll lanes in the Lake Norman area prompted the DOT to form the group of business and elected leaders last winter. Trogdon met with the group seven times between January and May. Members reviewed a consultant's report that outlined options for changing or ending the contract with Spanish construction giant Cintra and its subsidiary I-77 Mobility Partners.  

A DOT spokeswoman says Trogdon will share his thoughts on "realistic, viable next steps."  The biggest issue is how the state might pay for a contract buyout, which could cost $300 million or more. 

The meeting begins at 1:30 at the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce. Trogdon also will discuss the I-77 project at a meeting Wednesday night of the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization. That meeting begins at 6pm at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Government Center.  

Meawhile, the contractor, I-77 Mobility Partners, says the toll lanes are expected to open by the end of the year.  

Asked last month about possible contract changes, spokeswoman Jean Leier of I-77 Mobility Partners spokeswoman, said only: “We have not been part of that process. We remain committed to our partnership with NCDOT and we remain focused on getting the roadway done and open by the end of the year.” 


NCDOT's web page on the I-77 toll lane project, https://www.ncdot.gov/projects/i-77-express-lanes/

NCDOT.gov page on the I-77 Mobility Partners Contract review.

I-77 Mobility Partners page with project updates, construction photos and other information, https://www.i77express.com/


David Boraks is a veteran journalist who covers climate change for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.