Lake Norman economic development group backs I-77 tolls

Lake Norman economic development group backs I-77 tolls

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by KATIE KILLEN / NBC Charlotte Staff

WCNC.com

Posted on February 21, 2013 at 7:02 AM

Updated Thursday, Feb 21 at 10:41 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Tempers have boiled over the state DOT's plan to add toll lanes to I-77 for a while now, and now one group is throwing their support behind the proposal. 

The Lake Norman Regional Economic Development Corporation is on the state's side.  

The state has proposed adding high occupancy toll lanes that would stretch from Brookshire Freeway to I-85 in Charlotte. 

The Lake Norman EDC believes toll lanes would actually generate more business in the area, by making it more accessible. 

"Hopefully it will create some manufacturing opportunities too and to get the product in and out and to get the people in and out, we have to have improved transportation," said Mike Griffin, Chair of the EDC. 

However, the lanes are a tough sale for many residents and other area groups.  Neighbor Tom McDonald doesn't believe the toll lanes would draw new residents or businesses.  

"I think a lot of people prefer to live in Cornelius and Davidson anyway and the outlying area rather than Charlotte and we suffer the commute to go in," he said. 

Others are concerned about the finances behind the project. 

"I hate to see toll roads coming to NC.  I feel like we pay a lot of taxes on gasoline protects that we should be able to support roads and road projects in this state," said Monroe resident Darryl Elkins. 

Elkins travels to Cornelius for work and is forced to drive I-77.  One citizen group that's been very vocal about opposing the toll lanes is Widen 77. 

That goup says they wanted the road widened, but that the state should consider building more general purpose lanes.

The DOT has said they will hold more meeting before the toll lane project is finalized.

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