Toll Lane Construction Won’t Start Until 2016
The real news at last night’s Davidson town board meeting wasn’t the meaningless resolution they passed. After listening to NCDOT for almost two hours, the board adopted a resolution asking NCDOT to pursue “fair” ways of widening I-77.
Disappointing as that was, with Commissioners Brian Jenest and Rodney Graham both strongly pro-toll it was not unexpected. What caught us off guard were comments by NCDOT Division 10 Engineer Louis Mitchell.
Mitchell said the toll lane access points were going to be finalized at next week’s CRTPO meeting, at which point Cintra will commence the final design.
For months now we’ve been hearing construction will start this summer. Finishing the final design doesn’t sound like construction is beginning any time soon.
Mitchell confirmed that suspicion when he dropped a real bombshell: “major construction” won’t start until sometime next year.
As far back as April 2010 toll lanes were touted as the solution to widen I-77 sooner.
Of course, this bait and switch continues a pattern of misleading statements. Consider what NCDOT said in their May 28 press release:
- Toll lanes will provide “immediate and long-term traffic management solutions within three years. ” …yet the bond rating agencies reported a construction time of 43 months. Add that to the latest delay and we’re looking at the toll lanes opening in 2020.
- Carpoolers can “choose to use the express lanes for free.” …yet they fail to mention carpoolers must have an approved transponder or they will be charged a toll.
- “A general purpose lane project did not score high enough through the Strategic Mobility Formula to move forward.” …yet, their own hypothetical scoring of such a project would’ve landed it in the top 7%, outscoring 25 highway projects that are receiving funding.
- No I-77 LKN project could be funded within ten years because I-77 South will use all of the money under the corridor cap. …yet in that same press release they show I-77 South construction won’t begin until 2024!
That’s just one press release.
This latest delay demonstrates yet again the toll project is more about crony capitalism and bloated bureaucracy than it is about serving the residents of Lake Norman.