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NCDOT & Cintra extend financing deadline at taxpayer expense

Last week NCDOT and Cintra  extended the financial close deadline for the I-77 toll lane project by amending the tolling contract.  Under the original terms Cintra was required to secure financing by January 22, 2015 or forfeit a $15 million security deposit to the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT). The original terms also allowed

Yes, We Did

We’ve been quiet, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been busy: This morning we filed suit in Mecklenburg Superior Court to stop the I-77 toll lane project. The complaint contains twelve separate counts.  I’ll talk about the two that I can most easily grasp and articulate. First, the current plan converts a stretch of an

Goliath Introduces Himself

Cintra, you may have heard, is a huge multinational corporation with over $70 billion in assets under their control. They are a goliath in the private tolling industry. Well, earlier this week Goliath introduced himself to Widen I-77. Actually, Goliath’s twin brothers did. They’re both lawyers. Parker Poe, a downtown Charlotte law firm with 200+

Signing a Contract with a Shell Corporation

In a recent article by the John Locke Foundation, NCDOT and Cintra officials assure us that Cintra’s recent bankruptcies will not affect their ability to obtain financing for I-77 toll lanes. “Each of Cintra’s projects is wholly independent, with an isolated, non-recourse structure that ensures that the performance of one project never impacts” any of

Bastiat on P3 Tolls

Bastiat on Public-Private Partnerships Frederic Bastiat was a 19th Century French economist and philosopher. One of his most famous essays, That Which Is Seen, That Which Is Not Seen, discusses the long term implications of economic decisions. He uses the example of a hypothetical shopkeeper (“James”) whose front window has been broken by his careless

WidenI77 Retains Legal Counsel

Widen I-77, a citizens group opposed to private toll lanes along Interstate 77 through the Lake Norman region, retained legal counsel yesterday for the purposes of seeking a possible injunction against the project. The first phase of the study will assess potential legal strategies and determine which are the most viable. Due to the publicity

About that $70 billion…

“We have $70 billion in road needs and only $11 billion to pay the bill.” It’s a lament commonly used to justify toll lanes. We heard it at the candidate forum last week, and we’ll probably hear it at the next one tomorrow night. But how did NCDOT come up with that $70 billion figure,

Charlotte Learns About Toll Lanes… Sort Of

At their regularly scheduled city council meeting this past Monday, Council members had the opportunity to learn about the I-77 toll lanes.  NCDOT made a “managed lanes” presentation. The council asked lots of pointed questions, which is good. It’s the answers we take issue with. They heard the usual rhetoric about “giving drivers a choice”

About that bonus money…

You may have heard recently about a “bonus” allocation of money allotted to our region as a reward for building toll lanes. The law that passed last summer requires the NCDOT to “make available” a bonus allocation equal to half of the project cost funded through toll revenue bonds, up to a maximum of $200

Huntersville Mayor Apologizes for Commissioner’s Anti-Toll Efforts

Late last month Huntersville Commissioner Rob Kidwell stepped out on a limb and asked the North Carolina legislature to consider postponing the I-77 toll project.  Given the fact we still don’t know basic information like anticipated toll rates it seemed like a reasonable- perhaps even courageous- request. But apparently Huntersville Mayor Jill Swain didn’t think