NCDOT holds closed toll lane meetings across Lake Norman - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

NCDOT holds closed toll lane meetings across Lake Norman

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LAKE NORMAN, NC (WBTV) -

NCDOT held a series of closed door toll lane meetings with across Lake Norman Thursday, though state officials did decide to allow media in when journalists from local papers and TV stations showed up.

The meetings started with a commercial-like video touting Cinta's toll lanes in Texas.

"The Texpress lanes offer a faster, and more pleasant way to travel, and a better quality of life," a silky-voiced woman announced in the video.

But even though the public wasn't invited to the meetings with Cinta officials, there was still some passionate objection to that message.

In Mooresville, Cornelius Commissioner Dave Gilroy pointed out that a Cointa toll lane project in Texas is financially troubled, and asked the Spain-based company to release projected toll rates for our area.

"When will we see your model?" He asked. "Your assumptions? These critical traffic revenue assumptions?"

The answer? We won't see them - not before the toll lane is a done deal.

"Any public release of that information prior to financial close would be harmful to the project," replied Cinta rep Javier Tamarjo.

All we know right now is that the toll lanes will fluctuate in price. One early NCDOT projection said it could cost $42 for a round trip in just a couple of decades. Gilroy asked if that was likely.

"Is $42 plausible for 2035?" asked Gilroy. "Round trip. On the corridor. Peak hours. Is that what the citizens will likely pay?"

"That could be," answered Tamarjo.

Widen I-77 member Vince Winegardner was upset he couldn't get into the Davidson meeting. "We need to stop the project," he said. "We need to find a better solution."

NCDOT Chief of Staff Bobby Lewis said, "I hate it gets referenced as a closed meeting or a private meeting but our intent was to have sort of a conversation gathering."

Mooresville resident Ray Duncombe wanted to be part of that conversation. "Unfortunately it felt indicative of how the entire process has worked," he said. "This has been a very closed off process where they're not releasing a lot of information to the public."

But Lewis said state officials needed a chance to talk with commissioners from Huntersville, Cornelius, Davidson and Mooresville at length. He also said a serious of public informational sessions are in the works.

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