The N.C. Department of Transportation has refused to grant extensions to finish the Interstate 77 toll lanes north of Charlotte and will fine the project developer $30,000 a day starting Friday.
The full project is expected to open this fall, the developer says.
Three sections of the 26-mile project from Charlotte to Mooresville won’t be finished by Thursday’s deadline, DOT said. Those are from I-277 in Charlotte to I-85; between I-85 and Catawba Avenue in Cornelius; and from Cornelius to the end of the project in Mooresville.
The section from I-485 south of Cornelius to Mooresville opened to traffic in June, but DOT said work is still taking place so it is considered incomplete. Drivers complain about uneven pavement on the section, with newly-paved portions an inch or two higher than the rest of the roadway.
Liquidated damages of $10,000 a day will be assessed for each uncompleted section, DOT said. Liquidated damages are charged against DOT’s payments to a contractor when a contract is breached. The fines will be levied against the project’s developer, I-77 Mobility Partners, DOT said.
“As is standard in all NCDOT construction projects, the prime contractor has the right to appeal this decision,” the department said in a statement.
I-77 Mobility Partners, a subsidiary of general contractor Cintra, said Thursday that it has collaborated with the transportation department on planning and construction of the project since signing a comprehensive agreement.
“No decisions are made without input from NCDOT, and we will continue to make every effort to work with our partners in good faith and uphold our agreements,” the statement said. “As is our company’s practice, we will not be commenting on political statements or state policy, and we will refrain from negotiating in the media.”
Work on the project, will add two toll lanes in each direction between Charlotte and Cornelius, and one toll lane both ways from Cornelius to Mooresville, began four years ago.
It was initially to open in January, but the deadline was extended so contractors could do further work at the request of DOT and a regional transportation planning group.