Mark Washburn

Lake Norman crybabies need a good spanking

Interstate 77, one of the state’s worst bottlenecks, is due to get toll lanes to alleviate congestion, but the state would be penalized if it adds free lanes during the 50-year contract.
Interstate 77, one of the state’s worst bottlenecks, is due to get toll lanes to alleviate congestion, but the state would be penalized if it adds free lanes during the 50-year contract.

I must rise in support of this grand idea to slap the sass out of those insolent Lake Norman towns that think they have the right to oppose their benevolent overseers in Raleigh.

One by one, from Huntersville to Mooresville, they have developed the absolute gall to question the wisdom of our scheme to partner with a foreign conglomerate to gouge motorists for 50 years.

One by one, after the details of the contract became known, they bent like cowards to the rage of their impertinent constituents and withdrew support for our sleek and enduring I-77 tollway.

We are indeed fortunate to have in the N.C. General Assembly such bold and progressive leaders as Rep. Charles Jeter of Huntersville and Rep. David Lewis of Dunn.

These problem-solving stalwarts have sprung up with just the thing needed to put these seditious crybabies in their place – a $100 million fine.

That is the levy they suggest be assessed against Huntersville, Cornelius, Davidson and Mooresville, the four horsemen of heresy, the dregs of disrespect.

If they want to listen to their citizens and reverse the course of the contract signed by the state with I-77 Mobility Partners, then the towns can pay the penalty the state would incur.

Can you imagine what would happen if we allowed cities to weigh in on their objections to 50-year contracts for giant transportation projects that run smack through their ramparts? It could cause all sorts of problems.

This nonsense must be nipped in the bud. Already opposition of the most distressing type is spreading southward to Charlotte, the lucrative headwaters of the toll lanes.

Only last week, brazen Mecklenburg commissioners, apparently sensitive to the whining of the petty taxpayers, voted to oppose a regional plan embracing the I-77 toll lanes.

This is exactly what we sought to head off by rushing signatures onto the contract this summer when the details began to leak out to the public – which, frankly, is simply not intellectually equipped to understand complicated transportation matters like those of us in Raleigh.

It seems the rabble of Lake Norman was incensed by the provision that after the swift, modern toll lanes were installed, the state wouldn’t have to spend any more money expanding the free lanes on I-77 – one of the state’s busiest arteries – for five decades.

That’s a measly 50 years. It’s no reason to get uppity and confront authority. Who do you people think you are?

Toughen up. Otherwise, we’ll sack you with a $100 million debt. Because that’s what we think it will cost us – before the first shovelful of dirt is dug – to cancel this excellent contract we so skillfully negotiated.

So after this little chat, I’m certain you’ll agree your attitude must be reversed. Your opposition is only revealing the worst qualities imaginable.

What nerve. What arrogance. What a disgrace.

Mark Washburn: 704-358-5007, mwashburn@charlotteobserver.com, @WashburnChObs

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