State Rep. Brawley changes stance on proposed I-77 toll lanes - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

State Rep. Brawley changes stance on proposed I-77 toll lanes

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State Representative Robert Brawley (R-Mooresville) stood in front of a citizen's group backing them in their belief that there's a better way to alleviate traffic than with toll roads.

Republican advocate Sharon Hudson called it "political courage" for Rep. Brawley "stand up for citizens of North Carolina."

Brawley says his position changed after receiving new information, visiting with the public and reviewing options.

"We don't need to add toll lanes for 27 miles all the way to Charlotte to fix a problem when we can increase by 50 percent the transportation for approximately $100 million for 14 miles," Brawley said.

Brawley is breaking away from other Republican leaders with his new stance. He says there is a perception among some elected officials "they will lose out on transportation project if they take the wrong side."

Speaker of the House Thom Tillis has said High Occupancy Toll lanes, also known as managed lanes, would be the best option for widening the highway sooner rather than later.

Former Cornelius Mayor Jeff Tarte told WBTV last year toll lanes were the "lesser of two evils."

The NC DOT wants to install toll lanes north of uptown to exit 36 in Mooresville. Two HOT lanes would be built each way up to Exit 28 in Cornelius. One toll lane would be added each way between Cornelius and Mooresville. It calls for additional bridges to be built and is estimated to cost between $500-$550 million.

"As local leaders we are faced with one chance, one opportunity to do it right. The decision is long term - 50, 100 years..who knows. We have to be certain we are dealing with facts," Davidson Mayor John Woods said.

Woods acknowledges the issue is extremely financially complicated. "I think there has been a lot of misinformation spread that has created a lot of confusion, hysteria even," Woods said. "From the information we've seen this far from DOT and from the experts that have conducted multiple studies in the region, managed lanes are the method we should use."

Brawley said funds are available now for the scaled down project and it wouldn't place a burden on taxpayers. A spokesperson for the anti-toll group Widen I-77, Kurt Naas, said a new Governor also re-prioritized transportation projects. "This plan was originally started in 2010 because the state said they didn't have money and widen I-77 was not a priority," Naas said.

"We have a limited right of way. We've known all along that you can't build enough roads. We have to find different ways to do business and managed lanes using private and public partnerships is one of those ways," Woods said.

Later this month the Mecklenburg-Union Metropolitan Planning Organization, known as MUMPO, will vote on amending a transportation plan allowing the NC-DOT to move forward with the toll proposal.

Naas hopes to change more minds before that vote with a presentation to the Cornelius town council on Monday. A presentation will also be made to the town of Stallings.

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