‘Who Knows?’ Big questions still linger about the price tag for Tillis Tholl Roads

bohicaThom Tillis pushed approval for privately-managed toll roads through the North Carolina House despite objections from NCGOP grassroots leaders.   Skip Stam has endorsed the idea.  Gov. Pat McCrory has instructed his DOT board to look at toll roads as a serious statewide instrument for raising revenue.

Some DOT documents detailing a cost estimate — up to $20 worth of charges round trip each day for drivers — got leaked.   Public outrage poured out.  The politicians panicked, and told us to pay no attention to the information in those documents.  Even though it was research they requested to supplement their decision-making process. 

The first privately-managed toll road is set to go up in Mecklenburg County.  The Spanish contractor that will manage the road has been meeting privately this week with DOT officials and local officials in the affected communities.

Every previous time this has happened in the US, the projects have ended up being bailed out by taxpayers in those states.  The contractor has been experiencing serious financial woes in recent years.  Yet, we’re pressing forward. It’s Mecklenburg today, but will be coming to your neighborhood in upcoming years. 

This week, officials with the Spanish contractor were queried about the cost to drivers on the managed toll road in Mecklenburg:

[…] The NCDOT is on the verge of signing a 50 year contract which will commit an international corporation to more than a half billion dollars in construction for 26 miles of two toll lanes each way on I-77 in exchange for the ability to collect tolls on those lanes.

But no one – not the DOT and not the company, Cintra – will even give a ballpark estimate of what the tolls will cost the drivers who want to use the lanes.

If you’ve driven to Atlanta lately on I-85 you might have noticed the Peachpass lanes – where the DOT charges drivers to use the left lane to escape traffic congestion.

The NCDOT wants to put similar toll lanes on I-77 all the way from the Brookshire Freeway in Charlotte 26 miles north to Mooresville.payup

The only study made public puts the initial one-way cost during peak hours at as much as eleven bucks.

“There is no one I have spoken to that believes an eleven dollar trip is reasonable in any way,” said Cornelius Town Commissioner John Bradford. “These numbers have really set off a lot of alarms and bells.”

In Georgia the state runs the toll lanes.

But North Carolina plans to turn over the toll lanes’ management over to Cintra, which runs toll roads all over the world.

Cornelius Commissioner Dave Gilroy asked Cintra managers if tolls could max out 20 years from now at more than 40 dollars round trip.

“Is that what the citizens are going to likely pay?” Gilroy asked.

“Likely pay? Who knows?” responded Cintra’s I-77 project manager Javier Tamargo.

Letting an international corporation set the tolls does not bother Huntersville Commissioner Sarah McAuley. “No, because I think it will be at a competitive rate,” McAuley said.[…]

Who knows ????  How responsible is it to invest taxpayer dollars in something where you have NO IDEA what the impact will be on the average Joe Citizen? 

 

11 thoughts on “‘Who Knows?’ Big questions still linger about the price tag for Tillis Tholl Roads

  1. We pay gas taxes every time we fill up at a station. Where is this money going? Why can’t you build another lane from south of exit 23 to north of exit 30?

  2. “No, because I think it will be at a competitive rate,” McAuley said

    You know, competitive with all the “other” interstates that run between Statesville and Charlotte.

    We fully expect this to be rammed down our throats out here in WNC when they widen I-26.

  3. “How responsible is it to invest taxpayer dollars in something where you have NO IDEA what the impact will be on the average Joe Citizen?”

    Look how well the Randy Parton Theater and the Global Transpark turned out.

    I think the key here is to understand that politicians invest taxpayer money with the thought always in mind that the taxpayers have an unlimited amount of money.

  4. Asheville op-ed:

    “Thom Tillis to constituents: It’s my way or no highway”

    “Public assets you, your parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents paid for in taxes and sweat to make America a world power in the 20th century, ALEC wants sold off in the 21st. To its members, of course.

    “Limited government” is their code for stripping America for parts.”

    http://www.citizen-times.com/story/opinion/contributors/2014/08/22/thom-tillis-constituents-way-highway/14451859

    1. The Republican state convention voted overwhelmingly against tholl roads, but Tholl Road Thom will not listen. Loyalty is a two way street. If Thom is not loyal to Republican principles, why should he have any expectation that Republican voters will be loyal to him?

      1. “NCGOP waters down 2014 platform”

        “The 2014 version of the platform has NO MENTION of toll roads. In the drafting committee, the argument for removing it was that it was merely a Mecklenburg issue.”

        https://dailyhaymaker.com/?p=8334

        They’re gonna do this on every major highway project they can, and every time they’ll paint opposition as just some “local” miscreants.

  5. Big government fans are opposed to toll roads because of the participation of private enterprise. Big government types want to use tax money so that they can squeeze more tax money out of the working families of North Carolina. I appreciate a leader who wants to use private enterprise rather than fattening up the government.

    Private toll roads threatens the growth of government and that scares the big government types.

    1. Thank you, George Orwell. It has been a long time since I have seen such a blatant example of ”Newspeak”.

      1. Double-plus ungood, oldthinker.

        “War is Peace”

        “Freedom is Slavery”

        “$20 tolls is Smaller Government”

  6. ” I appreciate a leader who wants to use private enterprise rather than fattening up the government.”

    How much is he paying you?

    “Private toll roads threatens the growth of government and that scares the big government types.”

    That’s crazy. In almost ll acases, the roads that are being privatized were initially built with public money. Taking that American-taxpayer-paid-for, public property and turning it over to a foreign company to generate profits, that’s not a big-government/small-government issue – that’s crony capitalism. Sucking profits out of taxpayers who already paid for the dang infrastructure is theft. Spin it all you want, that’s what it is.

  7. ALEC Board members Moffitt and Tillis in a CIBO forum this morning – Rep. Moffitt asked repeatedly about highway funding, and how to fill the gap left by falling gas revenue. Follow along on the “evolving” answer:

    1) “One of the things that we have looked at is potentially adding lanes to existing highways, and use a dynamic tolling mechanism for those who choose to have a more expeditious ride to work or through the state, they would actually pay a toll for that…”

    2) “We need to protect the revenues that come from the use taxes that we currently charge, and, again, we need to look at all of the options. But hopefully, by getting our financial house in order, we don’t need to go down the path of dynamic toll lanes…”

    3) “On the issue of toll roads, personally, I do not support them, nor do I accept the notion that dynamic toll lanes are a solution to the problems we face moving forward with transportation.”

    Mind you, those three quotes happened in order, in less than the space of an hour. He went from being the guy who was citing toll lanes as the only viable option that he could think of, to being the guy who angrily refused to accept the toll lanes that were being forced on him by someone else. That 180 degree flip-flop happened in in front of a conservative business crowd that was clearly not happy about the prospect of toll lanes on I-26.

    Is this the way it happened with Tillis and I-77?

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