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Have a complaint about I-77 tolls? Time is running out.

Traffic heads south on Interstate 77 during toll-lanes work at exit 23 in Huntersville in May 2016.
Traffic heads south on Interstate 77 during toll-lanes work at exit 23 in Huntersville in May 2016. jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

Saturday is the deadline to tell the state your thoughts about a recent study of the Interstate 77 toll lanes project.

In response to complaints about the state’s contract with I-77 Mobility Partners, the N.C. Department of Transportation hired consultant Mercator Advisors to conduct an in-depth review of the contract and project. Work is well underway on the lanes from Charlotte to Mooresville.

On Aug. 10, Mercator released a draft report of its review, which includes public comments and concerns about the contract. The report assesses options for the NCDOT. The review cost about $100,000.

Mercator in part found that DOT could cancel the contract “to be responsive to concerns that continue to be expressed by elected officials at the local, county and state level about the (public-private partnership) arrangement.” That could cost the state as much as $300 million, however, Mercator’s report said.

Finding the money to buy out the contract would be a “significant challenge,” according to the consultant.

Mercator also reviewed other ways to change the contract, although the report lacked specifics about how much other changes might cost, the Observer has reported.

One possibility is to allow the contract to continue and convert one of the two toll lanes in each direction in north Mecklenburg into a general-purpose lane. Mercator didn’t estimate the cost of that option.

Mercator’s draft report is available on the state’s I-77 toll-lanes project website, https://www.ncdot.gov/projects/I-77ExpressLanes/.

Public comments will be reviewed and incorporated into the consultant’s final report, according to the DOT.

Email comments and suggestions to i77feedback@ncdot.gov.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067, @jmarusak

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