Folks in northern Mecklenburg County have been told they have no choice but to accept tholl roads to pay for the widening of I-77, a major traffic artery for the region. The state has signed a 50-year deal with a controversial Spanish contractor to oversee the project. A number of local politicians lost their jobs — or came close — earlier this month because of their enthusiasm for tholl roads in the region. Some pols, who were not on the ballot this month but will be in March and November 2016, are calling on the governor to cancel the I-77 tholl project. Astonishingly, here is Gov. Pat’s reply to that request:
Gov. Pat McCrory doesn’t have the authority to put a halt to proposed toll lanes for Interstate 77 north of Charlotte, the state transportation secretary said Friday.
The secretary responded after four Mecklenburg County lawmakers and nearly 20 local leaders appeared at a news conference to voice opposition to the toll lanes. State Sen. Jeff Tarte read a 2½-page letter he sent to McCrory asking him to cancel the project. Sen. David Curtis, and Reps. Charles Jeter and John Bradford, who also represent Mecklenburg County, also signed the letter.[…]
“The Governor does not have the authority, without legislative approval to pay the associated penalties for sudden cancellation,” state Transportation Secretary Nick Tennyson said in responding to the letter.
Tennyson said the governor “neither requested this project nor would it be appropriate for him to cancel the contract based on a request from four representatives, without clear direction from the local elected officials who requested and approved the I-77 Express Lanes project.”
Also, Tennyson said the letter was “riddled with inaccurate and false claims” and promised a more detailed response later Friday.
No authority ???? He runs the Department of Transportation which is overseeing the project and which negotiated the deal. And it would be hard for a lot of those pro-tholl local officials to speak up now — because they’ve lost their jobs.
One possible solution on funding the project: The Garden Parkway. The $900 million boondoggle project that appears to not have an end. A federal judge has put the kibosh on the state’s construction of the Garden Parkway. Apparently, $900 million was set aside for that. WHY can’t that money — meant to fund an idefinitely postponed project — be switched over to fund the widening of I-77?