Mark Washburn

Bulldozer approach to toll lane

A daily clog on I-77 North approaching Huntersville occurs when four lanes squeeze to two. A deal is close to build toll lanes to alleviate some of the backup.
A daily clog on I-77 North approaching Huntersville occurs when four lanes squeeze to two. A deal is close to build toll lanes to alleviate some of the backup.

Thank you for your interest in the I-77 toll project.

Your input is important to us. We respect your views. You are nice to take the time to tell us that you don’t want to pay tolls for the next 50 years on public roads.

Unfortunately, you and your little friends are too late.

Do you have a clock handy? Look at it. It says, “Too Late.”

Is there a calendar in your kitchen? Ask it. In its little calendar voice, it will say, “Too Late.”

It was Too Late 10 months ago when Sen. Jeff Tarte, a Cornelius Republican, asked us to allow lawmakers a chance to review the final contract.

It was Too Late in recent months when the Lake Norman towns of Huntersville, Davidson and Mooresville independently developed second doubts about this sensational scheme.

It was Too Late two weeks ago when the state found it had an extra $400 million lying around, which could pave a lot of free lanes.

It was Too Late last week when Republican Mecklenburg commissioner Jim Puckett complained that free lanes could be built with money from a proposed bond package.

You see, this sly idea to gouge you rich Lake Norman commuters for generations has been in the works a long time. We have found a willing partner in an overseas company that will be a benevolent operator in raking in your tolls.

Decade after decade after decade after decade after decade.

No, we haven’t exactly signed the final contract granting our foreign friends a monopoly on one of the state’s busiest highways, but we intend to do so shortly. So it’s Too Late.

Yes, the contract was mysteriously altered at some point – nobody remembers when or why, and quit asking because it really isn’t important because it’s Too Late – to ensure our partner’s torrent of toll cash wouldn’t be threatened by adding free lanes. We didn’t plan to add any for you anyway. You won’t need them. Because you’re getting toll lanes.

If we can’t gouge you rich folks up in Lake Norman, we can’t gouge anybody. So this project is important to us. We want to pull this toll scheme elsewhere.

You’re going to love paying tolls in addition to paying one of the highest fuel taxes in the nation. This way we can say we didn’t raise taxes.

No, these lanes won’t do anything about congestion plaguing one of the state’s fastest-growing regions. We need the frustrating congestion to drive you into the toll lanes, where our overseas partners can gouge you. For 50 years.

All you annoying people who want to head this off need to hush and go home. We’ve talked about this for years. We didn’t heed those of you opposed to it then and we’re certainly not going to start now.

You need to understand that we’ve got bulldozers and steam rollers. We don’t let anything stand in our way when we’ve decided where we’re going.

We’re going to sign the papers shortly. Then it will be double-double Too Late.

So thanks for your interest. Your opinion is important to us. Too bad it’s Too Late.

And quit asking how high the tolls will go. How should we know? It’s way Too Early.

Washburn: 704-358-5007;

Twitter: @WashburnChObs.