Toll Opponents Join Forces To Fight HOT Lanes and Other Toll Projects in North Carolina

CORNELIUS, N.C. -- Lake Norman Conservatives is pleased to host an event called “Stop the Tolls -- It’s Now or Never” featuring guest speakers of two citizen groups opposed to public-private partnership toll projects in North Carolina. The Charlotte-area group WidenI77.org and the Raleigh-area group North Carolina Citizens Against Toll Roads will both be presenting at the Lake Norman Conservatives monthly meeting on Thursday, October 30th at the Galway Hooker Restaurant & Pub, 17044 Kenton Drive, Cornelius, N.C. 28031. Everyone is welcome.     


Widen I-77.org organized almost two years ago to challenge plans to build High Occupancy Toll (HOT) Lanes on 26 miles of interstate from Charlotte to Mooresville. The group is instead advocating for significantly cheaper general purpose lanes in the highly congested area around Lake Norman, from exit 23 to exit 36. Visit www.widenI77.org to learn more.

North Carolina Citizens Against Toll Roads was organized last February in Fuquay-Varina. They were first motivated by the construction of the Triangle Expressway outside of Raleigh, but the group also became concerned about plans by the NCDOT to build toll roads and HOT Lanes across the state, using public-private partnerships (P3’s) to fund transportation projects. Visit www.nccatr.org and www.p3times.com to learn more.

In addition to giving an update on new developments in the fight against tolls, the groups hope to raise funds to pay for legal fees to stop the project planned for I-77 north of Charlotte.  Donations to stop the tolls can also be made online at www.widenI77.org.

To make reservations and/or donate items for the event’s silent auction, please email lakenormanconservatives@gmail.com. Guests may also register online at www.lakenormanconservatives.org. There is no charge for the event. Social hour and dinner are from 6:00-7:00 p.m., and the program will begin at 7:00 p.m.

“Everyone – conservative or not – is warmly invited,” said Carole Gibbons, co-chair of Lake Norman Conservatives. “The goal of this event is to bring the community together regardless of political affiliation for a discussion about how to stop the I-77 tolls and other tolling projects planned across North Carolina.”

About the HOT Lane Project on I-77
Legislation for the NCDOT proposed project was initiated by House Speaker and U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis, who was instrumental in getting P3 and pro-toll legislation passed in the N.C. General Assembly.

The plan for I-77 from Mooresville to Charlotte is for Spanish company Cintra to be awarded a 50-year contract estimated to cost $655 million. HOT lanes use congestion pricing, which means there is no limit to how high the tolls can go. A study released by the NCDOT after a freedom of information act request showed that during peak hours a commuter traveling the entire distance from Mooresville to Charlotte could pay over $20.00 round trip. The contract with Cintra also contains a non-compete clause so that no new general purpose lanes or other interstate improvements can be built for 50 years. This ensures congestion… and a profit for Cintra.

In contrast, building general purpose lanes in the congested area is estimated to cost around $100 million. WidenI77.org’s Kurt Naas says, “This toll project is a battle between what the private company wants, which is lots of congestion and high tolls, and what the public needs, which is free-flowing traffic without tolls.”

About Public-Private Partnerships (P3’s)
A public-private partnership (P3) is a way in which corporations take control of taxpayer assets – usually essential public infrastructure such as roads, water and airports.  It is often sold as the “innovative” solution for governments that are broke. Taxpayers are viewed as customers, not owners of these assets, and the corporations are given the authority to manage these assets and charge user fees and fines for use of the infrastructure.

“The new goal for these essential public assets is billion dollar profits for corporations who see a low-risk business opportunity since most P3 contracts are financially backed by the taxpayer,” said Vallee Bubak of Lake Norman Conservatives. “In addition to taxpayer bailouts if a project fails, there is little to no representative government in P3’s and the public is at the mercy of the corporations managing essential infrastructure.”

About Lake Norman Conservatives
The mission of Lake Norman Conservatives is to inform the public about issues that impact free markets, limited government, individual freedom and personal responsibility on the local, state and national levels; and to provide citizens with the knowledge, tools, and encouragement necessary to support candidates and elected officials who promote and defend these values. We meet the last Thursday of each month. 

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