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HOT Lane Opponents Continue Fight Post Financial Close

Kurt Naas addressing the Cornelius board.

Kurt Naas addressing the Cornelius board.

The financial close achieved between Cintra and the NCDOT on May 20 should have been the end of the debate on the project if you listen to Cintra and the NCDOT. For what it’s worth, that’s the same tune they have been singing for months…”It’s a done deal”.  Sound familiar?

In reality, opponents are galvanized now more than ever.  Apparently impending doom succeeds in lighting a fire under folks to take action.

Just eight days after the closing, a business summit was conducted in Cornelius at Michael Waltrip Racing headquarters spearheaded by John (Mac) McAlpine, HOT lane opponent and director of electronics at Waltrip Racing.  The summit was attended by roughly 150 area business leaders who, according to McAlpine, universally accepted the presented arguments against the HOT lane project.

The purpose of the summit was to present to business leaders not only the arguments against the project, but a plan to move forward in the post financial close environment. With the support of Commissioner Jim Puckett and Senator Jeff Tarte, a plan was outlined that calls for:

  • The defunding of the I-77 Express lanes exits 20-36.
  • Inclusion of general purpose lanes for I-77 for the Lake Norman region in the Governor’s Connect NC Transportation bond package.  This package represents a long term infrastructure investment for the betterment of all North Carolina Businesses and Citizens.

You can view the plan and sign at this LINK or watch this video presentation from the event.

It’s an ambitious plan, and one contingent of generating support from the business community and the local elected bodies. It is also designed to work concurrently with the WidenI77 lawsuit, attacking the project from another angle.

The first step in generating support from the town commissions was accomplished last night at the Cornelius Town Commission meeting.

Kurt Naas of WidenI77 and representatives of I77 Mobility Partners were invited to discuss the pending lawsuit filed by WidenI77 against the project.  Mobility Partners backed out, though NCDOT representative Warren Cooksey was in the audience, but Naas was still able to give a presentation which ended with a resolution from Commissioner Dave Gilroy.  The resolution called for the NCDOT to terminate the contract with Mobility Partners and work towards a general purpose lane solution.  It passed unanimously.  We are working on obtaining a final copy.

More specifically, Naas invited the Cornelius board to join the lawsuit and/or contribute financially to the furtherance of the lawsuit. There was interest from the board, but such discussion is pending in closed session once the legality of doing either can be determined. Still, additional positive news from the anti-toll perspective.

Cornelius has a history of being a trendsetter in North Mecklenburg politics.  Hopefully the other towns will follow suit in passing similar resolutions.  Contact your respective boards and encourage them to do so.

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