MegaProject 708: North Carolina votes to cancel Cintra´s toll road
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The North Carolina House of Representative has voted to cancel the contract for the I-77 Express Lanes P3 project after construction already began.
The cancelation could result in a multimillion dollar penalty for the state. According to sources, the total amount of the penalties for cancelling the project would range from US$80 million to US$300 million.
Legislators voted 81-27 in favor of HB 954, which would end the state’s Interstate 77 project. Critics argue that cancelling the project is justified because the agreement is not in the state’s best interests, the location of planned entrance and exit ramps would negatively affect local businesses and that the state would be unable to add free lanes to the project for the life of the agreement. The financial problems of Cintra subsidiaries with SH 130 Concession Company, LLC and Indiana Toll road operator filing for Chapter 11 protection did not help either.
In early March, we informed that Pat McCrory, Governor of North Carolina, had plans to review the concession contract of the project.
Ferrovial, through a consortium led by its subsidiary Cintra Infraestructuras, was awarded the PPP project in April 2014. Commercial closure was achieved last summer and the financial closure was achieved in May 2015.
Construction began in mid-November 2015. The US$647 million project is being developed on a design, build, finance, operate and maintain (DBFOM) basis. The 50-year concession would start from the date the infrastructure opens to traffic.
The project includes road widening, in both directions, along 26 miles (41.8 km) of the I-77 in the metropolitan area north of Charlotte, between the junctions with the I-277 in Charlotte and the NC-150 in Iredell County. To improve traffic in one of the fastest-growing areas of the state, the existing highway will be rebuilt and capacity will be increased by creating managed lanes, subject to variable electronic tolls, which will help reduce congestion and improve traffic flow in the corridor.
The project is divided into three segments:
- on the southern segment (2.2 mi, 3.5 km), the existing section would be upgraded and two managed lanes will be built in each direction;
- on the central segment (14.9 mi, 23.8 km), the existing lanes would be upgraded and two managed lanes will be built in each direction;
- on the northern segment (8.8 mi, 14.2 km), the consortium would build one new managed lane in each direction.
In December 2015 we reported that British infrastructure developer John Laing had acquired for US$25 million a minority shareholding in I-77 Mobility Partners (I-77 MP), the company developing the project. Later in January 2016, Charlotte City Council voted in favor of the project.