Toll lane advisory holds first public meeting

LAKE NORMAN, NC (WBTV) - After shutting out the public from its first meeting, the I-77 toll lane advisory group held its first public meeting on Wednesday afternoon.

NC DOT founded the group to look at options to improve or cancel the state contract to build the toll lanes.

The meeting was held at the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce.

The advisory group itself is made of about two dozen local community and civic leaders.  Last month there was outrage when the public and media were shut out, but on Wednesday the meeting was open to anyone.

At the meeting on Wednesday, members primarily discussed the cost of the options that have been presented for the contract by a DOT consultant.

Last year, Philadelphia-based Mercator Advisers suggested six options for the toll lane project, including converting one of the toll lanes to a free lane.

Another option would be one called 'complete and delete,' in which Cintra would finish the lanes, but then DOT would buy them out and decide whether to operate them as managed toll lanes, or as free lanes.

All six options involve either terminating or changing the project in some way that would make it very different from the current status.

Those toll lanes have sparked much controversy about the price tag and length of the contract, and the estimated prices for the tolls.  The lanes will run from Mooresville to uptown Charlotte, and are on schedule to be finished at the end of the year.

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