NC House unanimously votes for I77 cancellation fund amendment

In a stunning development, the NC House today approved an I77 reserve fund in a unanimous 113-0 vote.

The bill sets aside up to $300 million out of the Highway Fund and Highway Trust Fund surpluses to pay for any “costs, damages or monetary penalties” due to the “cancellation or modification of the Comprehensive Agreement….”

It further says that “funds are appropriated for that purpose” and no other.

You may recall our dismay that I77 compensation could only be paid for by an “express allocation.” Well, it looks like this could be that allocation. Any disbursements will be paid for (in whole or in part) by ten years of toll revenues. More on that in a moment. The cancellation or modification must occur before July 2023.

The text was run as part of an amendment to HB 1029, and the primary sponsor was Rep John Bradford. Word has it that Bradford held out his budget veto vote until he got the amendment. Whatever the reason, it appears to have satisfied the big “how do we pay for this?” question.

As evidence, House Transportation Chair John Torbett spoke in favor of the bill, as did toll advocates John Fraley and Bill Brawley.  Brawley, you may remember, is the Representative from Matthews and the author of HB 514, the municipal charter school bill.  He demonstrated his formidable legislative skills in shepherding that bill through the House.  He did the same with the P3 bill way back in 2011.

Some Caveats

While this is undoubtedly stunningly good news, there are a couple of caveats.

First, the bill has passed its second reading. NC law requires three readings, and that has yet to be calendared.  Six democrats opposed the second reading, and this is usually indicative of their wanting an additional amendment to the final reading. With this much support, though, it is highly unlikely the bill would not pass the House.

Which leads to the second concern: it must pass the Senate. Longtime toll warriors may recall a similar situation when the House passed a contract cancellation bill that did not even make it into a Senate committee. That bill passed with bipartisan support, but not unanimously.

It would almost be unconscionable for the Senate to ignore a bill that unanimously passed the House. Wouldn’t it?

Third, the fund would be paid for by highway fund surpluses. It could very well be the Highway Fund and the Highway Trust Fund never run a surplus in the future, although they have in the past. Mitigating this concern is the Build NC bond, which injects $3 billion into the NCDOT for roads.

Fourth, any unpaid disbursements will be paid for be reducing the Division 10 maintenance funds to Mecklenburg county over a period of 20 years. So, it appears locals will be paying for a mistake made in Raleigh. This, too, can be mitigated by the amount allocated, and things can change in 10 -20 years.  This is not worth falling on our sword, as the important thing is to get the contract cancelled.

There are many moving parts to this, but the good news is I77 toll cancellation continues to be discussed and debated in the halls on Jones Street.

Here is the amendment:


11 Responses to NC House unanimously votes for I77 cancellation fund amendment

  1. Anette says:

    We’ve seen this rodeo before. Just ahead of elections and almost at the same time two years ago. There are warmth tok many holes in this. And whaterever happens the NCGA still needs to vote on whatever Cooper does.
    I wish I could jump up and down for joy. But this project is still a go until Cintra leaves the state.

  2. Deborah Harris says:

    Best news since this giant mess started…….

  3. Dennis Watkins says:

    Thank you Rep John Bradford, holding our breath.

    I have cancelled many dinners, shows and shopping trips because of the traffic/time uncertainties. I simply cannot understand why the uptown merchants aren’t more upset and/or vocal about this mess the politicians have forced on the people north of town.


    • Chris says:

      Why not just use a traffic app and learn the backroads. I have never canceled anything and have never been more than a couple minutes late for any appointments or work due to traffic. I learned to stay off I-77 and I-85 a long time ago.

  4. Paul says:

    Div10 of the DOT doesn’t maintain the roads as it is! Nevertheless, let’s hope for a good outcome!

  5. Brent Bolster says:

    This could be great news given the fact that historically I have seen ncdot, the zoning board and the urban planners not working together. Continuing to build In Mecklenburg County and Lake Norman without an adequate infrastructure to support this seemingly uncontrolled growth is appalling to me and many of the residents. To allow such an unforgivable contract to pass with a 50 clause coupled with the impossibly that the Lexus lane can support truck weight along with the clause regarding the inability to create alternative parallel roads makes me think who is getting paid off.
    We will have to wait and see if the legislature can finally do the right thing!

  6. Silvius says:

    New govorner couldn’t hold on to his promises, looks like we’ll just elect another. Elections coming soon.

  7. Mary Ann McHenry says:

    Not sure I truly understand if this is good or bad. Sounds good so that maybe we can get this damn thing cancelled, but unsure if it will stop the tolls. Someone still needs to explain to me why I-85 from Charlotte to Salisbury was widened in 7-10 mile stretches at a time, they got ALL NEW BRIDGES and a fancy connection to I-485 in North Charlotte/Concord area to deal with congestion, and got widened to 4 lanes in each direction, ALL WITHOUT TOLLS !!! Why here in Lake Norman area, the very next county over and in the same damn state, our widening project is 26 miles long being done ALL AT ONCE, its been a traffic nightmare for 3 years so far, they are putting up ridiculous AND EXPENSIVE concrete barriers (some of which have been torn down after they were built and rebuilt 5-10 feet left or right of where the original was – can we say MISTAKE made), our bridges are being converted, not new, we are going to get our 4 lanes each way, BUT WE GET TOLLS !!! Something sounds fishy to me. We have to go to Charlotte and Statesville just like people in Concord need to get to Charlotte and Salisbury, but they don’t pay like we do. Whats good for the goose is good for the gander and we should not get tolls either.

  8. Richard J. Beck says:

    Oh, let me understand. Maybe the toll terms will be reduced to 10 years instead of 50. So, it is pat me on the head and tell me to go away. Bless you for your consideration.

    It is still a mess. It will still be totally congested. I will still never pay a toll.

    The politicos never understand, never listen. All need to be removed and someone needs to be prosecuted for this mess. No “real” business would ever sign such a contact except one that leads in corruption.

  9. Marc St john says:

    Will they cancel tolls? Who knows. I77 shouldve been widened 10 to 15 years ago. Contrary to what people may think, not everbody that lives in the Lake Norman area are rich. I will never pay to use it. Just poor planning.

  10. […] not when it comes to I77.  As we reported last week, Rep John Bradford ran an amendment to HB 1029 that would have created a reserve fund to pay for […]

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