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Transportation leaders deny Cintra's proposal to build more express lanes on I-77

NCDOT says an open bid process could happen in the near future for the toll lane project.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A proposal to add express lanes to Interstate 77 south from Uptown Charlotte to the South Carolina border has been denied. 

In February 2022, Cintra, the company that built the I-77 express lanes north of Uptown to Mooresville, pitched the project to Charlotte transportation leaders. A group comprised of NCDOT and Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization (CRTPO) members tasked with reviewing the proposal announced Wednesday night it has denied it.

NCDOT has always planned to build express lanes on I-77 south of Uptown, but it’s still figuring out the best way to fund and implement the project. 

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Cintra wants to do the job, but an NCDOT engineer told WCNC Charlotte's Julia Kauffman it’s too soon to decide. 

NCDOT previously said Cintra could speed up the planned express lane project by several years. However, NCDOT engineer Brett Canipe told the CRTPO Wednesday the proposal was denied because it isn’t any different from what the department is already planning. 

Canipe also said Cintra's project timeline was unclear and their original projections could be dragged out due to construction costs. 

Although Cintra's unsolicited proposal was denied, Canipe told the CRTPO that Cintra may be able to submit a new bid for the project in the future.  

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Staff members are conducting a comparative analysis for the project. Researchers are analyzing whether it’s best to build the lanes through a public-private partnership or only using public funds. Transportation leaders are waiting for that report to come out in spring of 2024 before deciding how to move forward. 

The project is expected to cost more than $2 billion. If it’s determined a private partnership is the best route, NCDOT will start a bid process.  

Contact Julia Kauffman at jkauffman@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

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