Politics & Government

Bill to kill I-77 tolls all but dead

A bill to stop Interstate 77 toll lanes appears all but dead, and a Mecklenburg County senator said Wednesday it would take a “Hail Mary” play to keep it alive.

Last month Republican Sen. Jeff Tarte of Cornelius sponsored a bill that would effectively kill the toll lanes by prohibiting the N.C. Department of Transportation from participating in the project.

Lake Norman-area businesses have lobbied lawmakers to cancel a state contract with I-77 Mobility Partners and find another way to widen the interstate.

It’s likely not going anywhere in the session. It would take a Hail Mary pass at this time.

Sen. Jeff Tarte

But the bill doesn’t have much support. Tarte said so far only one person on the 13-member Transportation Committee has agreed to support it.

In addition, time is running out. With lawmakers trying to resolve their budget impasses, the Senate is expected to shut down its committees after Thursday.

“It’s likely not going anywhere in the session,” Tarte said of his bill. “It would take a Hail Mary pass at this time.”

Tarte said opponents’ best hope appears to be persuading the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization to reconsider the project or join efforts to redefine the scope of the project in hopes it would qualify for state money.

Gov. Pat McCrory has said it’s too late to cancel. And some lawmakers say there’s little chance of stopping the toll lanes.

That includes Rep. Charles Jeter, a Huntersville Republican. He has outlined a plan to have four towns – Huntersville, Cornelius, Davidson and Mooresville – use property taxes to pay a cancellation penalty as high as $100 million and widen the interstate themselves.