Mooresville Mayor Miles Atkins on Wednesday joined the growing number of Lake Norman area elected officials in calling on the state to delay the financial closing on planned Interstate 77 toll lanes.
Atkins said too many questions have surfaced about the $655 million project, and the state should hold off on its financial closing.
The state is about to sign a final contract with I-77 Mobility Partners to convert existing express lanes into toll lanes.
The project will add two toll lanes northbound and southbound on I-77 from the Brookshire Freeway in Charlotte to Exit 28 in Cornelius. It will add one toll lane in each direction from Exit 28 to Mooresville Exit 36.
Spain-based Cintra US will pay most of the costs and, for 50 years, will maintain and operate the lanes while collecting most of the toll revenue.
The plan is for construction to start this summer and finish by late 2018.
Concerns about the contract arose recently with news the contract includes a noncompete clause that restricts the state from widening the interstate for 50 years without stiff financial penalties.
Last week, Cornelius commissioners unanimously passed a resolution asking the state to delay a final contract for 90 days.
Monday night, Huntersville commissioners passed a resolution expressing their concern with the contract. Tuesday night, Davidson’s town board passed a resolution asking the N.C. Department of Transportation to explain changes in the toll lane contract.
Atkins said having a faster way to Charlotte Douglas International Airport would help recruit more corporations and jobs to Mooresville.
“However, there have been general concerns about the financial viability of this proposed toll project, particularly in light of the recent cancellation by Virginia DOT of a similar Cintra project,” the mayor said.
“I also have concerns about the additions to the agreement that prohibit the region from being able to build general purpose lanes without a financial penalty,” Atkins added.
He said he’s finding that some of the information he’s shared with his constituents about the project “is now inaccurate.”
With the recently discovered contract amendments and too many unanswered questions, he said, “I simply cannot justify moving forward with the current project as is... It is not unreasonable to re-assess the path we are on. We need time to examine what the best course of action is for our residents and our region.”