#NCSEN: Spanish firm picked to develop & manage Thom’s tholl road

payupYep.  The word is out:

The creation of toll lanes on Interstate 77 north of Charlotte took a big step closer to reality after the N.C. Department of Transportation announced Friday it has picked a bidder to build the 26-mile road expansion.

Pending a final review, DOT officials said, Cintra Infraestructures S.A. will begin work on the toll lanes as early as December.

“This is a major step,” DOT spokeswoman Jen Thompson said Friday. “It makes it closer to being finalized.”

The project will be a public-private partnership, a new type of road funding in North Carolina. State officials say North Carolina will contribute $88 million toward the $655 million project, with Cintra paying the rest. In return, Cintra will receive toll revenues for 50 years.

“Innovative funding solutions like this one are vital to keep up with growth and infrastructure,” said Mike Holder, chief engineer with the DOT.

By 2018, state officials say, motorists will have the choice of driving north into Iredell County on regular lanes tillisor what the DOT calls “managed lanes.”

Cintra Infraestructures, based in Spain, is among the world’s largest private developers of roads and other forms of transportation infrastructure. The company specializes in toll roads and has built the Chicago Skyway and the Indiana East-West Toll Road.

State officials said last month they had four bidders for the project.

The idea of having toll lanes on I-77 from the Brookshire Freeway north to Exit 36 in Mooresville has not been warmly received by all. A group calling itself Toll Free NC has been marshalling opposition to the plan. Its leaders say motorists will be surprised at the tolls, which they claim could range from $5 to $16 each way between Charlotte and Iredell County.

Toll Free NC refers to the I-77 toll lanes as “Lexus Lanes.”

State officials said they have not decided on the cost of the tolls, but they say the fees will vary depending on the time of day and the density of traffic. Vehicles carrying three or more passengers, motorcyclists and buses will be exempt from the tolls.

Under the plan, one lane will be added to I-77 in each direction from the Brookshire Freeway to Exit 28 in Cornelius. In addition, the current High Occupancy Vehicle lane will be converted to a toll lane. That will leave, for the most part, two nontoll lanes and two pay-to-drive lanes. One toll lane will be added in each direction from Exit 28 to Exit 36.

So, we’ll be paying a toll on a lane that we’ve already — allegedly — paid for with our gas taxes ????  Holy cow.

A new bridge will also be built to control the traffic moving from I-77 to the Brookshire Freeway.

thomfoldThis is another example of a phenomenon that amazes me.  A competitive bidding process has found that the most-cost-effective option is bringing in a massive corporation from Spain?  The government does the same type of thing at military bases like Fort Bragg.  Firms from New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts regularly come down to North Carolina and beat out local firms for work on-base.  How does that happen?  

One theory — a flawed preliminary design.  These competitive bidding scenarios only require that you quote exactly what you see — even if it is wrong and totally in conflict with code.  As soon as the contract is awarded, the change orders start flying and the price sky-rockets.  There are plenty of contractors out there making a fortune — at our expense — playing this game.

Some may dismiss this story as something only for North Mecklenburg to worry about.  Well, McCrory’s DOT board has been publicly mulling installing toll roads all over the state.  Thom Tillis has said toll roads are the best idea he knows of for financing road construction.   We’ve got an astronomically-high gas tax.  Now, on top of that, you will get the privilege of shelling out even more in toll money to pay for road construction that your gas tax payments were supposed to be covering.

Does anyone else have concerns about turning over control of an asset of the people of North Carolina to a foreign-based corporation for 50 years?  Wake up, folks.  This will be heading your way soon.  The Rs and the Ds in Raleigh and DC are not going to cut back and look for savings to pay for necessary projects.  They will keep bleeding us dry to buy our votes to keep them duly employed in this mess of an economy we empowered them to create. 

12 thoughts on “#NCSEN: Spanish firm picked to develop & manage Thom’s tholl road

  1. Cintra was the Spanish company contracted to build and run the Trans-Texas Corridor from the Mexican border to Canada as part of GW Bush’s Security & Prosperity Partnership, a.k.a, the North American Union. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Karl Rove and probably the Bushes by proxy are supporting Tillis.

  2. “A mix of public and private ownership is a socialist arrangement, and a sly tactic employed by those looking for increased power, albeit under a different name: the public-private partnership.” Mises Institute, from article titled “The Back Door to Socialism” http://mises.org/daily/3240. Don’t know how anyone can vote for Tillis between his so-called “Big Boy Pants” and his “Big Boy Corporatism/Socialism”

  3. Sounds like a good plan to me!

    I am all for reducing the size of government and having these people put their money up thus giving the taxpayer a break.

    This is a victory for capitalism and private enterprise. Finally our elected officials are hearing our pleas for less government and more private investment.

    1. For someone who thought FDR was a wonderful president, it was clear your economic concepts were rusty. This is all about crony capitalism, as in Putin’s Russia, not free enterprise. It is also much closer to the classic fascist principles of economics than to free enterprise.

      1. I favor small government and less burden on the taxpayer. Looks to me that this company has a lot more in this road than do the taxpayers.

        It seems that many who call for smaller government really want larger government.

        I favor private investment over taxpayer investment.

        1. Highways have always been part of the public infrastructure, even going back to ancient Rome, but I have no problem with a purely private toll road. We had those in North Carolina in the 19th century with the plank roads. But the public-private ”partnership” smacks of the worst sort of crony capitalism.

          Where Tilli$ is really against small government and free enterprise is when it comes to utilities. He was one of only a handful of Republicans to vote with the Democrats for Senate Bill 3 which imposed the renewable energy mandate, and as Speaker, he used his influence to stop a Republican effort to repeal it. That mandate forces utility companies to buy expensive electricity from the crony capitalists in the green energy business, and they then pass that extra cost on to consumers. Since the enactment of Senate Bill 3 in 2007, North Carolina’s electric rates have increased 65% more than the national average.

          Why does Tilli$ push this consumer ripoff? Simple. He is a stockholder in a small bank in his district which specializes in loans to the green energy crony capitalists. He protects his own personal investment at the expense of the utility bills of North Carolina families. Shame on him. I guess he must have had his ”big boy pants” on when he decided to whack electric customers.

          1. Raphael, you are a wealth of knowledge! I agree re: public-private partnerships. It would be even more concerning in the case of a sensitive or critical public asset where you could have a foreign-owned company that is really, say, owned by China taking control and managing something like water resources/ treatment…….where does it stop?

    2. Cooper the paid troll for the Tillis campaign checks in attempting to mislead the masses like his boss tholl road thillis.

  4. Grupa Ferrovial the Parent Company of Cintra is a member of the UN Global Compact.
    So let me guess Thom Tillis and the NC. DOT just sold OUR HIGHWAY to the UN. We won`t get paid for this we get taxed for it and it will be a Global Tax. Nice. Collaborating with the United Nations against the people of the United States selling our infrastructure to a Foreign Country. Not sure if this would fall under the Logan Act, but………………

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