A Mecklenberg County-based grassroots group has released some rather provocative video featuring state House speaker Thom Tillis. In the video, Tillis can be seen and heard addressing a group of truckers in 2012. The speaker can be heard telling the truckers that he opposes tolls on I-95, fearing that they could spread to I-77.
In 2013, Tillis has become a proponent of HOT lanes — a concept where sections of public roads are leased to private companies to manage on behalf of drivers who pay an extra fee for the privilege of driving in those lanes. Tillis and other pro-HOT lane supporters are targeting I-77 in Mecklenberg County for the system’s North Carolina debut. A pretty loud and rowdy grassroots protest has resulted.
Widen I-77, the leading opponent of HOT lanes on I-77, hosted a town hall forum this week to provide information to concerned residents. (Video of the event is here. Around the 12:00 mark, you can see the video of Tillis.)
In the video, the town hall moderator presents information contradicting HOT lane supporters’s claims that toll roads ease congestion and save taxpayer money. Widen I-77 has launched an online petition drive aimed at stopping the implementation of a HOT lane toll system on I-77.
According to speakers in this video, local transportation authorities at the Mecklenberg-Union Metropolitan Planning Organization (MUMPO) have said the state has the final say on HOT lanes on I-77. Widen I-77 presents a quote in their video from Tillis suggesting that MUMPO makes the call on HOT lanes.
(For what it’s worth, a Mecklenberg senator has introduced legislation in Raleigh seeking an exemption for MUMPO board members from ethics reporting requirements. )