Anti-toll drivers protest on I-77

Anti-toll drivers protest on I-77

CORNELIUS, NC (WBTV) - Friday, a group of frustrated drivers protested proposed toll lanes on Interstate 77.

The "Exit 28 Ridiculousness" Facebook page organized the rally which took place at Exit 28 in Cornelius.

The toll lanes were proposed as special lanes added to specific areas of existing expressways. In order to access those lanes, drivers have to pay a fee, it's called congestion pricing.

The proposal, estimated to cost $655 million, is drawing mixed reactions from motorists.

An organizer of the rally, Vallee Bubak said, "These toll lanes are actually bypassing the towns between Mooresville to Charlotte. It will not alleviate the traffic for people who live in those communities. They can't even get into the lanes."

Bubak has been fighting the toll lane plan for over two years.

She is also a volunteer with the group Widen I-77.

"It would make much more sense and would be more cost efficient to widen the general lanes where traffic bottle necks," said Bubak.

"That's a stretch that could be widened for far less money than we're going to spend to do this massive corridor tolling project," said David Gilroy the commissioner of Cornelius.

Safety is also concern for drivers.

"This should have been widened a long time ago being an evacuation route for two nuclear power plants," said Chuck Suter.

Back in January, Widen I-77, sued to try to stop the toll lanes, but a judge allowed the project to move forward.

If the bond is approved, construction will begin this summer. The project is supposed to add two toll lanes northbound and southbound on I-77 from the Brookshire Freeway in Charlotte to Exit 28 in Cornelius and one toll lane in each direction from Exit 28 to Mooresville Exit 36.

According to NCDOT, the prices for tolls can cost as much as $20 round trip.

Express lanes will be operated under a 50 year contract with Cintra, a company from Spain, who will maintain and operate the lanes while collecting most of the toll revenue.

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