2-Minute Charlotte: Last ditch effort to block I-77 toll lanes


2-Minute Charlotte gets you caught up on the day’s most important local news before your coffee has a chance to cool down. Today’s edition: 369 words. Expected reading time: 1 minute, 50 seconds.

Mecklenburg County commissioners are planning a last-ditch effort to stop the toll lane project on Interstate 77 north of Charlotte – but the plan comes with a potentially serious cost.

It’s a little technical, but it comes down to this: A regional transportation planning body could potentially vote no to a package of road improvements planned for North Carolina over the next decade. That would include the toll lane project, but would also throw about $200 million in other Charlotte projects into jeopardy.

THE BACK STORY: This plan to expand I-77 between the Lake Norman area and Charlotte has been in the works for years. This regional transportation board has even voted in favor of it on two occasions. Gov. Pat McCrory has said it’s too late to stop it. This new effort to stop it involves the county commissioners’ delegate to the regional board – commissioner Dumont Clarke. He’s in favor of the toll lane project, but the rest of the board wants to force him to vote against it.

WHY THIS MATTERS: It’s well-established that the toll lane project is not popular. Elected officials and an organized citizen’s group have been casting about for ways to stop it. If they succeed, of course, it would mark a significant change in Charlotte transportation. This wrinkle also brings up all sorts of questions about what a local elected official’s responsibilities are, and whether they should vote their conscience or do what the rest of their board wants to do.

What people are talking about

THREE ARRESTED IN PLOT TO RESIST THE GOVERNMENT: FBI agents raided a tattoo parlor and a home near Belmont, and now three men are charged with making bombs with the intention of violently resisting the government. They believed the military would impose martial law.

KERRICK TRIAL OPENS: The prosecution and the defense laid out two very different sequences of events that they say led to Jonathan Ferrell’s death.

DISPATCHERS WAKE UP GASTONIA RESIDENTS: A misdial accidentally called the whole town at 4:30 a.m. instead of calling in back-up firefighters.

What to watch for

WEIGH IN ON INDEPENDENCE BOULEVARD RAIL: The city will be holding public meetings about plans for some type of rail or streetcar around Independence Boulevard or Monroe Road.