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Cornelius News

Opinion: Solution to I-77 still stuck in legislative congestion

July 5. OPINION.  In this  letter to the editor, Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce Cornelius CEO Bill Russell explains why there is no easy way out of the I-77 contract. Regarding the legislative amendments ​(Online headline June 20: ‘Solution to I-77 still stuck in legislation congestion‘)​ on I-77 which surfaced for a while, then were gone just as quick: The truth is there is no easy way out, no quick solution for getting out of this contract. The frustrated citizen can say just cancel it but it’s not that simple. There is potential litigation, penalties and the overriding question of where do funds come from to pay the penalties and the construction that has been done to date.

It’s just as frustrating for our state representatives from both parties: Rep Beasley and Bradford and Senator Tarte who desperately want to find a fix.


At this point, I cannot see a legislative path to address the I-77 Contract with Cintra. What is much more likely is Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon deciding on the best course of action after reviewing the recommendations from the Mercator Report and I-77 Policy Advisory Group and then suggesting a course of action that both the Governor and Legislature can act on accordingly.

In the end, this tolling approach and an extended relationship with Cintra managing two toll lanes will fail. That conclusion has been reached in the halls of Raleigh, NC. If anything that battle has now been won. Now we have to win the war – obtaining general purpose lanes for Lake Norman and ending the contract with Cintra at the conclusion of construction. That’s a war we dare not lose. The consequences to our future are far too great.

Bill Russell, CEO

Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce