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Cornelius News

I-77 Advisory Group may need closed session to wrap up

​March 29. ​By Dave Vieser​. ​Taking a cue from​ its​ namesake​’s​ traffic flow during rush hour, the I77 Advisory Group is moving slowly, which will in all likelihood result in an additional meeting in late April. That was the most newsworthy development from the March 27 meeting at the LKN Chamber of Commerce.

During the two​-​hour session, the committee members continued to take a hard look at several options, including the possibility of negotiating a state takeover of the project with toll lanes once it is completed.

Known as Option E, most of the members agreed that this would be one of the more complicated approaches. “At some point, we will need to consider going into executive session,” said County Commissioner Jim Puckett. Cornelius Commissioner Kurt Naas agreed. “We can start out in open session but I agree with Jim that we may have to eventually close the meeting,” he said.

During the discussion of Option E, a difference of opinion emerged as to what would happen to projects funded by  “bonus allocation” funds should the state take over the project. Several committee members suggested that projects would move forward, while state officials said any projects which had not started lose funding. The committee was promised clarification on this for the next meeting.

Earlier, the members reviewed and essentially dismissed several other options:

  • Switch from HOT 3 to HOT 2: This means that cars with two or more passengers rather than three passengers or more would not be charged tolls. Most participants felt this change would “not make much difference” and could actually cause confusion among motorists.
  • Pay for adding competing lanes: Under this option, the state would pay CINTRA now for the right to build so-called “competing” lanes later, under the assumption that construction costs would be less expensive now than later. However, members felt this was a very complicated option and several noted that the interstate’s causeway crossing Lake Norman essentially negates the possibility of a future competing roadway ever being built.
  • Non-revenue options: This option was really a combination of suggestions which would not impact on revenue, such as strengthening the pavement on the shoulders. Members felt the suggestions were too general at this time to consider seriously. “This is like a catch all option” said Puckett” where we will go when all else has failed!”
  • Left for consideration at the next meeting will be the most talked about option “Complete and Delete” whereby the CINTRA contract would be terminated after construction was complete and the toll lanes would become general purpose lanes.

The next meeting is scheduled for 1 pm Monday April 16 at the Lake Norman Chamber. An additional meeting to pull all of the options and recommendations together is also likely to be scheduled before the end of the month.