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Contractor Asks NCDOT For Another Extension On I-77 Toll Lanes

Barriers separate free lanes from toll lanes (left) on I-77 north of Charlotte. The northern section of the toll lanes is scheduled to open to traffic on Saturday, June 1.
David Boraks
The I-77 toll lane project is supposed to be finished by Nov. 1 or the contractor will face penalties.

The contractor building toll lanes on I-77 from Charlotte to Mooresville is asking for more time to finish the project, which could push construction into next year. The North Carolina Department of Transportation says it is reviewing the request, but hasn't made a decision yet. 

I-77 Mobility Partners, a subsidiary of Spanish construction company Cintra, is building the 26-mile project under a $670 million contract with NCDOT. Construction has been underway for four years. As part of the deal, the company will operate the lanes for 50 years. 

The project's northern section between Huntersville and Mooresville opened in June, about five months behind schedule. I-77 Mobility Partners has until Nov. 1 to finish the rest -- or face fines of $10,000 a day for any unopened sections. 

NCDOT previously allowed the company to avoid penalties for missing the original deadline last January.  A DOT spokeswoman said work was added to the contract, extending the completion date.

That extra work includes direct connectors from the toll lanes to Lakeview Road and Hambright Road, which were added at the request of regional transportation planners. And the contractor also now will repave the regular, non-toll lanes, the spokeswoman said. 

In response to questions about the extension request, a spokeswoman for I-77 Mobility Partners said only that they're still hoping to hit the deadline.

"We continue to be in close contact with NCDOT and our construction partners, and we all are working towards a fall opening," I-77 Mobility Partners spokeswoman Jean Leier said.

Two Democratic state lawmakers from north Mecklenburg, state Sen. Natasha Marcus and state Rep. Christy Clark, have written to NCDOT secretary James Trogdon, urging him not to approve an extension.  

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