Tuesday, April 5, 2016

#NCGA - House Select Committee Bait and Switch on I77 HOT Lanes

After last November's election shellacking in Huntersville, one of the very first things that happened was announcement of a Select Committee in the NC House to look at I77 Toll issue.  In fact, the letter announcing the new committee has I77 Managed Lanes as the very first topic.

At the time, all this seeeeeeamed like a welcome about face from a legislature and local legislators who had done nothing to help the Lake Norman area avoid the NCDOT’S plan to saddle the area with 50 years of tolls.

So how has that worked out for us here in North Mecklenburg?

Unfortunately, things went steadily downhill after that initial announcement.

When the committee was initially announced, it became clear that it wasn't focused on tolls, but instead it was a body with a wide ranging scope.

While Rep Jeter of Huntersville is a Vice Chair of the group, he is one of three Vice Chairs and the body is Chaired by Rep John Torbett from Gaston County.

Furthermore, Rep John Bradford was not initially on the select committee.  Bradford represents Cornelius, the epicenter of the anti-toll movement.  At the same time Rep John Fraley of Mooresville who is openly pro toll was on the initial list.  (Rep Bradford eventually got onto the list, but only after lobbying to be added.)

aShortChronicle outlined these and other concerns back in December.  See here for that.

Now, after eight - yes eight!!! - meetings of the committee since last December - little to nothing has been done on the I77 issue according to the committee website at the NCGA.  One very pro-toll presentation can be found, but nothing from the anti-toll side.

Back on March 15th, Kurt Naas with WidenI77.org had this to say on Facebook in response to this story on aShortChronicle.

"With regards to the Select Committee, Widen I77 was twice asked to present and both times subsequently disinvited and removed from the agenda. To my knowledge the committee has not taken up the issue of I-77 tolls."

Since then, there have been two meetings neither of which included I77 on the agenda.  In fact, in the meeting on Monday 4/4 the committee published a draft report and passed two proposals.  One proposal was to remove tolls on all ferries in the state.  The other was to remove the cap on light rail funding from the state.

For a committee that had discussing I77 Managed Lanes as the first priority listed when the committee was formed, that's quite a record.

Bonus Observation:  Newly converted anti-toller Rel Charles Jeter chairs the sub-committee over public transit.  Avid pro-toller Rep John Fraley sits on the sub-committee overseeing roads like I77.

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