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Cornelius News

Toll lane revenue slows way down


April 1. By Dave Vieser. How far have toll lane revenues fallen at I-77 Mobility Partners? Jean Leier, the spokeswoman for Mobility won’t comment, and understandably so. There’s no framework to judge current toll revenues to previous years. Other local officials were more forthright.

“There is no question the stay-at-home order is impacting local traffic and commuters to and from work and school, said LKN Chamber CEO Bill Russell. “This will significantly impact toll revenue.”

The main reason is that many employees have begun began working from home, reducing traffic in not just the general purpose lanes, but the toll lanes which were supposed to relieve congestion on the now-clear GP lanes.

This just adds to the string of obstacles this project has endured and raises the question of whether it will remain sustainable when the current crisis eases and people return to work.

“Many of us were skeptical of Cintra’s numbers to begin with,” said NC Rep. Chaz Beasley. “I remain concerned that taxpayers are going to have to pay for shortfalls.”


The I-77 toll lane saga is a “cautionary tale” about locking in a contract for 50 years based on projections that were almost certainly too rosy, he added.

Some economists believe that when the pandemic eases, many companies will permanently assign employees to work at home to save money.

If that happens, traffic and revenue projections for the toll lanes may be too high.

The same may hold true for other road projects in the region.

It will be a challenge for Cintra, which owns I-77 Mobility Partners.

Cintra has a history of launching toll lane projects and then declaring bankruptcy. This time, the pandemic, a once-in-a-century event, may hasten the process.

Several other private toll road projects, including Texas Freeway 108, Virginia’s Pocahontas Parkway and San


Diego’s South Bay Expressway, have failed and the industry is fraught with a degree of financial peril not found in municipally owned toll roads.

However Russell sees a small silver lining in the situation.

“The bigger issue is can NC DOT get Cintra to expedite the completion of the project. We still have uneven paved stretches that are hazardous to travel.

While there is little traffic on the road, now would be the perfect time for road construction and not this summer when the pandemic has run its course and traffic is heavy.

Cornelius Commissioner Mike Miltich agreed.


“Regardless of the impact on toll income, hopefully the COVID-19 outbreak will not further delay completion of the project. Perhaps with less traffic on I-77, the necessary work can be completed even faster.”

Miltich was referring to the delayed resurfacing of the toll lane project, for which Mobility faces possible fines from the DOT.