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Charlotte's worst kept secret? Cintra behind I-77 unsolicited toll plans

When I posted about NCDOT receiving unsolicited plans for toll-managed lanes along I-77 from the Berkshire Freeway to the South Carolina State Line, a few commenters in various forums said it was obvious who the "anonymous" bidder was.  It would be Cintra - the same firm that built the infamous I-77 Express Lanes north towards Lake Norman.

Well, they were right.  It was Cintra that submitted the proposal - and WCNC-TV in Charlotte was able to get a look at it.  

The CINTRA proposal would build 9.4 miles of toll lanes at the cost of $2.3 Billion (with a B).  This proposal would include two tolled express lanes.  Cintra would not add any general purpose lanes to Interstate 77 - something that was and continues to be a sticking point with North Mecklenburg residents.

The plan would be to start construction in 2024 and complete the project in 2029.  Of course, that is, if the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization (CRTPO) approves and requests it.  The proposal would allow Cintra to collect tolls on the new managed lanes for the next 50 years.

The proposal, embedded below, does not provide full design or conceptual drawings of the highway.  But it does go into some general detail.  It would be a design-build project.  Also, basic concepts of the construction stages and process are included.

Conceptual Unsolicited Prop... by Hank Lee

Some highlights include:

  • The managed lanes would have direct interchange access to 5th Street and Woodlawn Road.
  • It appears there may be a direct connection with Interstate 485 - the proposal discusses "new connector bridges" that would provide "ingress/egress to the [managed lanes]."
  • Two railroad bridges would be replaced - which is easier said than done (just ask Durham and I-885.)
  • Irwin Creek would be relocated.
Finally, Cintra's proposal touts what they believe are benefits to NCDOT by going forward. 
  • A $2.3 Billion project off the state's books
  • An annual avoidance of $58 million in operation and maintenance costs during the toll lanes operation.
  • A $200 million concession payment from Cintra.
Sources:

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