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PNS Daily News - December 9, 2019 


The Pensacola shooting investigated as an act of terror; Trump faces criticism over so-called anti-Semitic comments; and some local governments adapt to meet the needs of immigrants.

2020Talks - December 9, 2019 


Candidates have a busy week in Iowa, despite a weekend shooting on Pensacola Navy Air Base. Also, candidates start butting heads, notably South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and MA Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Report: Express-Lane Project May Take Toll on NC Taxpayers

Planned Express Toll Lanes on I-77 in Charlotte could end up costing taxpayers additional funds if enough travelers don't opt to take the travel option. (CharlieCowins/Flickr.com)
Planned Express Toll Lanes on I-77 in Charlotte could end up costing taxpayers additional funds if enough travelers don't opt to take the travel option. (CharlieCowins/Flickr.com)
February 1, 2016

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Plans for the controversial I-77 Express Lanes Project in Charlotte are moving ahead now that the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization has voted in favor of the project.

This while a report from the North Carolina Public Interest Research Group called it one of the most "wasteful highway expansion projects" in the country. The toll lanes would offer an express option to drivers for a fee to avoid clogged roadways.

Dan DeRosa, spokesman with NC PIRG, says one major criticism is the state's taxpayers would be on the hook if the road doesn't generate the projected revenue.

"The biggest problem is the project locks the state into a 50-year contract," he says. "Where it would have to compensate private partners for any traffic that new transit developments would draw away from the road."

DeRosa says a reduction in expected usage could come from changes in traffic patterns, new roads built, and new transportation options available. Supporters of the toll lanes say they're needed to provide more reliable travel times on area roadways and alleviate some congestion in existing lanes.

Research including a report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group found that the average number of miles driven by 16 to 34 year olds has decreased by at least 23 percent since 2001. DeRosa says that's one reason why it's likely the toll lanes won't see the projected usage by the NC DOT.

"America's long-term travel needs are changing, especially among millennials," he says. "So we would propose that the state adopt 'fix it first' policies that reorient transportation funding away from highway expansion and towards repair of existing roads and bridges."

According to the Federal Highway Administration, North Carolina has 2,200 structurally deficient bridges and allocates only 17 percent of available funding on roadway repair.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC