Politics & Government

I-77 toll bill may hit a dead end

Mark Hames

The latest effort to stop the Interstate 77 tolls appears headed for another dead end, the N.C. Senate’s top Republican suggested Wednesday.

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger responded to a question about a Mecklenburg County lawmaker’s proposal to stop the I-77 toll project.

Rep. Charles Jeter said Thursday he plans to introduce a bill next week calling on the transportation department to cancel the state’s contract with the road builder, I-77 Mobility Partners. The General Assembly starts its short session Monday.

Jeter, a Huntersville Republican, pledged in January to introduce such legislation if the regional transportation board voted to go ahead with the contract, which it did.

He and other lawmakers made several unsuccessful attempts in the last year to cancel the toll contract.

Jeter said I-77 Mobility sold 39.9 percent share to investors for $25 million. He said that means the cost of breaking the contract would be around $63 million, far less than the up to $300 million some have projected.

A spokeswoman for I-77 Mobility Partners confirmed the shares sold, but she declined to say how much they sold for.

Berger, a Republican from Rockingham County, told reporters he hadn’t seen Jeter’s proposal. But he didn’t seem inclined to support it.

“The I-77 issue has been around for a while,” he said. “I think we’ve gone pretty far down the road on that. I don’t see the need for any significant changes. … I have not seen any information that would lead me to believe that stopping the project is the right thing to do.”

Jim Morrill: 704-358-5059, @jimmorrill

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