Davidson passes proposal to support anti-toll lane legislation

Davidson residents push for a delay to the I-77 toll lane project
Published: Jun. 10, 2015 at 1:58 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 10, 2015 at 1:58 AM EDT
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DAVIDSON, NC (WBTV) - The I-77 toll lane saga continued Tuesday evening, this time in Davidson.

Citizens waited and hoped for commissioners to pass a resolution blocking the controversial toll project, but that moment never came.

Instead, a resolution was passed to support the legislative effort underway to cancel the project backed by Senator Jeff Tarte.

Toll lane opponents like Vallee Bubak were looking for something with more teeth, similar to a resolution passed recently in neighboring Cornelius.

"It was an extraordinarily weak, spineless resolution if that's what you would call it. It did not say to terminate the contract. If anything to give the green light to the tolls," Bubak said.

Emotions ran high as citizens delivered their pleas to the board, asking them to stand up against the project that will eventually install toll lanes on I-77 from Lake Norman to Charlotte.

"How in the world did it get this far? There's a hidden agenda, we're not part of it," one woman said.

Multiple business owners said Tuesday night that they will be forced to move out of the area or close if the project moves forward.

"Do I sit in the congested lanes, or pay a toll? Where do I get that extra money to pay the toll and my employee?" a small business owner asked.

Commissioners spent over an hour asking NCDOT Deputy Secretary Nick Tennyson questions about the project.

"I think the main concern is that people want to see that there's actually relief in whatever gets built," Tennyson said.

The contract, signed last month with Spanish-based developer Cintra and I-77 Mobility Partners, took many by surprise. But Tennyson says breaking it at this point "for convenience" will cost the state upwards of $100 million.

Tennyson tells WBTV he's hopes citizens hold their urge to judge the project.

"Don't automatically decide that it's new and different so we don't think it will work. Because this solution will have some positive effect on the corridor," Tennyson said.

NCDOT now says they expect Cintra to begin construction in the Spring of 2016. It was originally slated for this summer.

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