News: Quick Takes

Bills Would End I-77 HOT Lanes Project

House Majority Leader Hager co-sponsor of one measure; Berger, McCrory oppose ditching project

CJ file photo
CJ file photo

Two bills have been filed — one by a Democrat, the other by Republicans — that would terminate the Interstate 77 toll agreement in Mecklenburg and Iredell counties.

Mecklenburg County Democratic Rep. Tricia Cotham, who is a candidate for the 12th Congressional District, filed one of the bills. The Republican bill was filed by Mecklenburg County Reps. Charles Jeter and John Bradford along with Rep. Mike Hager of Rutherford County, that body’s majority leader.

Both bills would scrap the June 26, 2014, agreement to build what are called high-occupancy and toll lanes, or HOT lanes, alongside the standard, free-use lanes on I-77. The project would run from Charlotte to Mooresville.

Cotham’s bill would require the state Department of Transportation to pay any monetary damages as a result of canceling the agreement from unobligated DOT funds.

The GOP bill would set aside $25,000 from the state Highway Fund to use for legal fees to be used for actions resulting from the cancelation.

The HOT lanes have been a controversial issue in the Charlotte region. Although the measure has House support, last week Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said he didn’t think a bill dealing with the I-77 issue would go very far in the Senate.

“The I-77 toll lanes issue has been around for a while,” Berger said. “I don’t see any need for any significant changes.”

Gov. Pat McCrory, the former mayor of Charlotte, has been a vocal supporter of the proposed tolling project.

Both bills, if passed into law, would take effect July 1.