McCrory: Too late to cancel I-77 toll lanes project

Gov. Pat McCrory said Friday it’s too late to reverse state plans for Interstate 77 toll lanes from Charlotte to Mooresville, and he won’t include free lanes in his $2.8 billion bond proposal for new roads and repairs to state facilities.

“You can’t change your mind after the contract has been signed,” McCrory told reporters during a stop in downtown Mooresville. He was referring to the state’s contract with a private developer to finance, build and manage the lanes, which are expected to be completed in 2018.

The governor questioned the motives of some local elected officials who now oppose the $655 million project.

“Some of them voted for it two or three years ago,” the governor said. Opposing the project now, he added, “may be to cover themselves politically.”

McCrory said the idea for toll lanes dates to Gov. Bev Perdue’s administration. Local governments and what is now the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization approved the I-77 project before the state Department of Transportation moved ahead with it, the governor noted.

McCrory also responded to recent motions by Mecklenburg County commissioners and Lake Norman area local governments asking the state to delay construction until questions could be answered about the project.

“If they had made those motions two years ago, we would have said fine, (and) stopped it. But you can’t do that after you made the decision,” McCrory said

He said canceling the contract would cost the state $50 million to $100 million. The DOT said last month that the Charlotte region could lose as much as $100 million if the contract was canceled because the money would go to other projects in the state.

McCrory added that even with his bond proposal, “there still will be hundreds of road projects that will not be funded.”

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