Sen. Tom Apodaca, Chair
Sen. Chad Barefoot, Sen. Dan Blue, Sen. Andrew C. Brock, Sen. Harry Brown, Sen. Ben Clark, Sen. Kathy Harrington, Sen. Ralph Hise, Sen. Jeff Jackson, Sen. Brent Jackson, Sen. Clark Jenkins, Sen. Wesley Meredith, Sen. E. S. (Buck) Newton, Sen. Bill Rabon, Sen. Josh Stein, Sen. Trudy Wade
The 2013 NC GOP platform under Article 2 [The Economy] section 8 reads, “We oppose any plans for, or legislation in favor of, High Occupancy Toll (HOT) Lanes”. This statement was added to the platform from the floor of the convention on Saturday June 8. The following day at the Executive Meeting a resolution was being debated to further oppose High Occupancy Toll (HOT) Lanes. Speaker of the NC House Thom Tillis chose to speak to oppose this resolution.
Tillis said in part, “But the net effect of this resolution to send a message to the Governor that you want to kill one of his three major initiatives that have come out this year. It’s not like he’s going to put HOT lanes all over the place. We’ve got a resol, we’ve already passed a bill that will not allow tolls to be put on existing roads. In other words the lanes that are already there that have already been paid for by taxpayer dollars and gas taxes cannot be tolled. It’s against the law. I also supported that bill I believe it’s House Bill 267. They cannot be tolled.
This is about trying to find a way to collect revenue that we don’t have. That the house and the Senate cut the gas tax. You wanted it cut, we cut it. The effect of that is hundreds of millions of dollars over time that we’ve got to make up somehow. As we move forward, as the state grows, as we add another million people over the next ten years, we’ve got to find a way to have infrastructure that allows businesses and industry and everybody else to grow. Without that this state will not grow. Moot only. (11:09)The HOT lanes, the proposal in the Governor’s budget is to consider corridors where they believe the economics are right to enter into private public partnerships to build roads. ”
Thom Tillis should have been censured by the NC GOP for openly being in violation of the party platform. Instead he became the Republican candidate for the US Senate.
Tillis supported HOT lanes by revealing that Gov. Pat McCrory is also in favor of them. Pat McCrory should also be censured by the NC GOP for openly violating the party platform.
After three weeks of cajoling the NCDOT with a FOIA request, and a couple calls to the NC Attorney Generals office, I finally got a response about who actually bid on the toll lane contract. I received a cut and paste of a carefully worded statement. Here it is (emphasis added):
Four potential bidders were shortlisted and participated in more than 70 intensive, one-on-one meetings with NCDOT. These meetings helped us produce several drafts of the final contract documents. These documents lay out the instructions for bidding, the design, construction, and maintenance performance requirements and the overarching agreement. They reflect the minimum contract requirements and the public protections that we require (e.g. bonding, insurance, termination rights, revenue sharing, etc.)In addition, we stated that the maximum contribution from traditional state funding would be capped at $170 million.Each of the four bidders conducted exhaustive analyses to determine if they could meet these contract requirements while ensuring that the long term contract would generate enough revenue to offset their initial investment.Bidders requested varying amounts of additional state and federal funding beyond the $170 Million, and/or requested that a multitude of the contract requirements be relaxed. We determined that the $170 million public contribution was reasonable and the public protections in place in the contract were prudent. The cap would not be increased.Bids were due on March 31, 2014 and one bidder submitted a compliant technical proposal and financial proposal. The proposals were subjected to roughly 200 pass/fail criteria and further evaluation of the relative merits of their technical proposal.The apparent best value proposer was announced on April 11, 2014 as Cintra Infraestructures. Cintra proposed a total project investment of $655 million, of which only $88 million is the NCDOT contribution (less than the projected $170 million contribution).
These are not your parents tolls of 25 cents into the basket. The cost for these tolls from Mooresville to Charlotte could cost $5.00, $6.50 and up to $16.00 or more each way. Drivers are given the choice to sit in even more congestion in the two lanes you have today or pay the high price to use the tolls. These lanes are nick-named “Lexus Lanes”. Do you want to pay $10 a day for your work commute or to get your kids to school and activities — on top of gas and other fees (including NC’s highest gas tax in the Southeast)?
“I heard it was a done deal. Is that true?”
Unfortunately, that is what some of the pro-toll officials are saying, but it is absolutely not a done deal for a number of reasons. First, the contract has not been signed. Second, there are still steps that have yet to been taken that will provide both the state and local officials to change the course. Third, towns across America have stopped similar projects pushed by their DOT organizations. When there’s a will, there’s a way.
I was told that there is no funding and it’s either tolls or nothing for 20 years?
Again, that is more spin and scare tactics used by the tolling corporations and their political partners. New funding criteria set forth by the state’s new transportation plan and the new ranking criteria by the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization will place I-77 toward the top of the list for public funds for adding general purpose lanes to I-77. As you look around the state you see plenty of other highway projects. Clearly there is funding for roads and with wise prioritization and leaders who will put the citizens first instead of corporate special interests, we can get the general purpose lanes we need.
Widen I-77 is a citizen’s group dedicated to widening Interstate 77 through the Lake Norman area with general purpose lanes. Right now our state and local governments are proposing High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes.
These HOT lanes will be operated for profit by a private company with contract term of 50 years. HOT Lanes will not solve our congestion problems and end up costing far more than general purpose lanes.
According to documents and memos obtained by wideni77:
I-77 was built in the 1970′s. Since then, the region’s population has grown tenfold, yet there has not been a single improvement in north-south connectivity in nearly 40 years. I77 is now the only stretch of interstate in Mecklenburg County that remains four lanes, and if the HOT lane plan succeeds, will be the first privately-operated toll lane in North Carolina.
We are asking our local elected leaders to convene a task force to develop alternative solutions. In the meantime, we are also asking the NCDOT to postpone awarding the private company contract until all of the proposed solutions have been thoroughly vetted.
HOT lanes are the WRONG WAY to widen I-77 through Lake Norman.
Email us at email@example.com with questions or feel free to comment below.
1) “Comments on Environmental Documents for TIP Projects I-3311 C and I-4750 HOT”, MUMPO memo dated October 4, 2012
2)“I-77 HOT Lane Project Discussion with Cornelius Town Board”, email from Bill Coxe to Andrew Grant, October 15, 2012
3) “I-77 Feasibility Study HOV-HOT Lanes Conversion”, Parsons- Brinkerhoff, May 6, 2010
4) I- 3311E; “I-77 Local Officials Meeting”, August 1, 2012
5) US Census Bureau data, 1980
6) US Census Bureau data, 2010