toll roads

Lawsuit filed to stop Mid-Currituck Bridge to OBX

Apparently 20 years of study actually doesn't produce good ideas:

The bridge would lead to growth in undisturbed areas along the northern Outer Banks, increase pollution in the sound and surrounding habitat and damage the ecosystem that helps handle storm surge, flooding and sea level rise, according to the suit filed by the North Carolina Wildlife Federation and the No Mid-Currituck Bridge Concerned Citizens, among others. The Federal Highway Administration officially approved the project last month following more than 20 years of environmental impact studies, public hearings and delays.

The 6.2-mile, two lane toll bridge would cross the Currituck Sound connecting Corolla and Aydlett and cross a swamp before intersecting with U.S. 158 south of Coinjock. It would cost an estimated $440 million.

I've never driven that route, so I don't know how bad the traffic situation is. It appears to be pretty bad, with vehicles idling for hours as they creep along. But in my opinion, ramping up growth *anywhere* on the Outer Banks is an insanely bad idea, and one healthy storm surge could turn this into a $440 million bridge to nowhere. SELC is (as usual) right on top of this situation, with much better (and cheaper) alternatives to the bridge:

Piqued by the lack of attention, Dan Forest makes some noise

danforestfire.jpg

Revealing the obvious, that he's running for Governor in 2020:

A big piece of North Carolina’s 2020 race for governor fell into place Thursday when Dan Forest gave his clearest signal yet that he’s running. This raises a number of questions, including: Who is Dan Forest? What has he accomplished that makes him qualified to serve as governor? And what’s next for Pat McCrory? Forest is North Carolina’s lieutenant governor and a Republican. On Thursday, he issued a statement reacting to the latest news on the I-77 tolls project.

“The I-77 toll road contract was a colossal mistake started by the Perdue administration, signed by the McCrory administration, punted by the Cooper administration and would be fixed by a Forest administration,” he said.

Bolding mine, because there aren't enough LOLs to cover how funny those questions are. The answers: Dan Forest is a marketable product with no actual utilitarian function. He's an artifact, created by political craftsmen to be the ideal (1950's) candidate. What has he accomplished? Less than nothing, but since it's hard to explain how his very presence has eroded the integrity of both his office and the voting public's discretionary skills, we'll just stick with "nothing." And I have to give a hat-tip to Taylor Batten, who is one of the few reporters acknowledging that lack of accomplishment:

I-77 toll opponents get another day in court

Trying to stop a privatized monster:

The North Carolina Court of Appeals is considering the effort of a group opposed to the toll lanes which prefers that additional regular traffic lanes be built. A judge in Charlotte last year rejected the challenge by the group Widen I-77. Wednesday's arguments came in the group's appeal of the rejection.

Widen I-77 attorney Matt Arnold says the group thinks North Carolina lawmakers were wrong to allow a private company to build the toll lanes. Arnold also says the company should not have sole authority to set the rates if the lanes are allowed.

Both the process leading to the contract and the company chosen to fulfill it have been a model of how *not* to do the public's business, and I encourage Roy Cooper and his administration to take a long, hard look at this thing before dismissing concerns raised. I do have a personal stake in this, as my daughter lives right along the I-77 Corridor, and is forced to use it going to and from work most days. I say "forced" because many of the communities in the Lake Norman area don't have a well-connected road system to use as an option to the Interstate, and the stunning growth in this area has turned traffic into a huge problem. Which may be one (big) reason the toll company Cintra signed the contract in the first place, because they knew locals would be forced to pay, and not leave the company counting pennies and filing bankruptcy:

NC House passes bill to kill the I-77 toll road

At least some level of sanity has prevailed in the NCGA:

Lawmakers approved the bill 81-27 with strong bipartisan support. Though Senate passage is far from assured, supporters were encouraged by the 3-1 margin.
State Rep. Charles Jeter sponsored the bill to cancel the Interstate 77 toll project contract.

“That should send a loud message to Gov. Pat McCrory that this is a bad project for our communities, for our commerce and for our citizens,” said Bill Russell, president of the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce.

It will be interesting to see if the puffed chests in the Senate follow suit, or decide to smother this effort.

McCrory administration's "vetting" of toll road company a farce

Cintra's Texas bankruptcy has been coming for years:

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory defended the state’s vetting of a Spanish company that has been contracted to build and operate toll lanes along I-77. In the wake of the news about the bankruptcy in Texas, McCrory instructed Transportation Secretary Nick Tennyson to “review options to reassess Cintra’s business model and current contract.”

McCrory’s directive on Wednesday comes after years of NCDOT defending its deal with Cintra and, more recently, repeated assurances that the firm has a dependable track record.

Bolding mine. Cintra's track record is far from dependable, as is detailed in this article from 2014:

A North Carolina Bridgegate?

As corporate-carpetbagger friendly as the NCGOP has made North Carolina since taking control of the legislature in 2010, they keep surprising. This latest revelation Monday from North Carolina echoes the billion-dollar, Hudson Lights real estate deal thought connected to Gov. Chris Christie's Bridgegate scandal. WCNC-Charlotte has video here.

Daily Dose: Tholl Road Thom edition

CAMPAIGN 2014
Tillis donors could make millions from toll lanes (WCNC-TV) -- Toll lanes on I-77 – the DOT says they're coming – but many voters don't like them. A group of big time campaign contributors to Republican state House Speaker Thom Tillis stands to make millions from your tax dollars tied to the toll lanes. There have been protests and organized opposition from a group called Widen I-77 as well as from some local elected officials in Huntersville, Cornelius, Davidson and Mooresville. Thom Tillis supports the toll lanes. He has for years. In a May 2011 televised interview on Carolina Business Review, Tillis told interviewer Steve Crump, "I think we have to take a serious look at toll roads…we don't have enough money coming in for the needs we have." Now the NBC Charlotte I-Team has documented that a group of big time Tillis campaign contributors stands to make millions from your tax dollars tied to the toll lanes. This story all starts with a prime piece of Cornelius real estate called Augustalee.
http://www.wcnc.com/story/traffic/2014/09/22/tillis-donors-could-make-millions-from-toll-lanes/16036733/

NC Quick Pass

One day I was driving on the freeway and got lost. I ended up on the toll road. I must have been on it for 3 minutes because I took the first exit. I don't believe in toll roads.
Well I got a bill for $0.45. I forgot it and the bill came in and it was now $6.00 which I was willing to pay. I forgot to pay it and today I got a bill for $37.00. I'll pay the $6.00 but not the $37.00. If they take my car registration then I'm moving out of here. They can go to hell. This has to be illegal.

I would like to find a bunch of people and take this issue to court !!!! This is worst than dealing with a loan shark. They hold your car registration hostage !!!!

First they brought the Lottery here (obviously a Yankee idea) and now toll roads. It's getting time to move out of North Carolina even though I love living here.
BTW, I moved here in 1985 and I'm a Yankee myself.

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