FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
email: [email protected]
I-77 TOLL PROJECT FINANCING APPROVED; STATE AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FAIL TO PROTECT TAXPAYER
Cornelius, N.C. – May 20, 2015 – has learned state and federal agencies have approved $189 million in federally-backed loans for the private toll lane project on I-77 through the Lake Norman region. The project also calls for $100 million in tax-free private bonds. The status of the private loan package is unclear.
The project calls for Cintra, a Spanish company, to build private toll lanes on the remaining public right-of-way and operate them under a 50 year contract. Under the terms of the contract Cintra was required to secure financing by January 22, 2015 or forfeit a $15 million deposit to the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT). NCDOT and Cintra extended the financing deadline twice, with the taxpayer bearing the cost of refinancing the deposit each time.
“This is disappointing but not unexpected news,” said Kurt Naas, spokesman for . “Throughout this process NCDOT has shown they are willing to do anything to push this project through.”
Under the terms of the contract NCDOT will collect up to three-fourths of toll revenue, leaving one quarter of revenue available to Cintra for debt service. According to ’s analysis, in order to repay the debt the I-77 toll lanes must gross more than twice the revenues of any toll lane project in U.S. history. The project would serve one of the smallest metropolitan areas. A copy of the analysis is attached.
Given the historically high revenues needed, ’s analysis demonstrates bankruptcy is a virtual certainty.
“We have government agencies and a private company so anxious to get this deal done they have ignored fiscal reality,” added Vince Winegardner, a spokesman. “The system lacks checks and balances. It reminds me of Enron.”
NCDOT pushed through project financing despite resolutions from Cornelius, Huntersville, Davidson, Mooresville, Mecklenburg County and Iredell County questioning the project’s benefit to the public.
“Clearly NCDOT is acting in Cintra’s interest instead of the public,” said Mark Gibbons, also a spokesman.
Because the government agencies tasked with safeguarding the taxpayer dollar have failed, will continue with its lawsuit. The trial is expected in August and our legal team has recommended we appeal to the NC Supreme Court if necessary.
The group is planning additional fundraisers to cover legal expenses.