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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A local citizens group is demanding more transparency after learning the toll rate of the proposed I-77 high-occupancy project could be in the double digits.

Wideni77.org recently obtained the information through a FOIA request. A NCDOT study projects toll rates during peak hours from Charlotte to Mooresville could fall anywhere from $9 to $11 each way.

Kurt Naas with Wideningi77.org says a further review of the study revealed the tolls can increase to over $20 one way by 2035.

Disbelief, I could not believe how much they expected to take out of the local economy, how much it was going to impact congestion and how much tax payer money is at risk, he said.

Naas group is made up of citizens who feel widening I-77 for general use is more beneficial to the public.

I think the tax dollars should be used to widen the road with general purpose lanes, that everybody can use as oppose to sending our toll money to a private company which is based in Spain, he said.

Steve Abbott with NCDOT tells NBC Charlotte that the report was commissioned by the state was conducted in 2012. He says it represented the maximum number, at peak travel times if drivers used the lanes for the entire 52-mile length of the trip.

He adds, now that the project is further along, the state does not anticipate rates to reach $21, but possibly $13 round trip.

Abbott says the rates will fluctuate depending on the time of day and demand.

A more reasonable reflection of the toll cost would be in the projected average per user trip, which is in the vicinity of $2.00 per trip. Demand and usage will be factors in pricing, and again drivers will always have a choice whether to pay for the managed lane or travel for free in general purposed lanes, said Abbott.

NCDOT says a private company like Cintra is needed to complete the project that the state otherwise could not afford.

Cintra is investing an estimated $655, while NCDOT is funding $88 million dollars.

NCDOT says it is in the best interest for Cintra to make sure the project is successful.

Abbott says the company will need to price the tolls in a way to encourage drivers to choose that option, while also maintaining certain speeds in those lanes.

The state believes the benefits outweigh the risk.

Naas group however feels the public should not be forced to take a substantial risk, especially when profits are privatized.

So if the project fails, the taxpayers are going to bail out the bond holders. The taxpayers are going to be on the hook to subsidize any shortfall in total revenue up to $12 million dollars are year, he said.

Naas says the local leadership will be sending a memo to the governor asking for the commercial close of the contract, scheduled for June 25, to be postponed.

If this is such a great project, why not be forthcoming with all the information and let the public decide, local elected officials decide? We are hoping the state will say, Hold on, let s wait and get an informed decision', since nobody can make a good decision if they only have half the information.

Abbott says the details Cintra s toll study won t be released until the contract is signed. He says companies are afforded some protection during this process. The state is planning to hold a meeting in the summer to inform the public about how the toll system will work.

For more information:

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