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Anti-toll battle will continue in 2017; HB7 won’t get past Transportation Committee

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Dec. 15. A bipartisan bill asking for an independent review of the bidding process around the I-77 toll plan—known as a request for proposals—looks like it will not get out of the key transportation committee in Raleigh.

In an interview, NC Sen. Jeff Tarte stated: “The attorneys who signed this contract should be disbarred. It is malfeasance and gross negligence.”

NC Rep. John Bradford, who co-sponsored HB7 said he will try again in the long session which begins Jan. 23.

Gov. Pat McCrory called a special session to deal with disasters like Hurricane Matthew and “any other matters” legislators decide to consider. That’s where HB7 came from, a joint effort of Rep. John Bradford, a Republican; Rep. Tricia Cotham, a Democrat; and Rep. Justin Moore, who was appointed to fill the seat of Rep. Charles Jeter who resigned this past spring. Moore will be replaced by newly elected Chaz Beasley, a Democrat.

HB7 would have helped determine whether the 900-page contract between NCDOT and Cintra, a company from Spain, is valid.

Bradford said the legislative trio filed HB7 “because we were advised that we could file any legislation we wanted” during the special session. Bradford represents NC District 98 which includes Cornelius and Davidson. He is a Cornelius resident and a former member of the Town Board.

Efforts to cancel the contract in Raleigh have been thwarted every step of the way, presumably at the direction of Gov. Pat McCrory who was defeated in November.

McCrory was humbled by voters in North Mecklenburg, reflecting the broad base of anti-toll sentiments along I-77 north of Charlotte.

“I believe my job as Representative is to look for any and every opportunity to support my local elected officials’ and constituent’s repeated calls for action to stop the tolls. Yesterday, I saw a small window of opportunity so I took full advantage of it,” Bradford said.

Cotham, a Democrat who is retiring from the House of Representatives, said the leadership had an opportunity to cancel this “bad deal of a contract.” Her mother is Pat Cotham, a member of the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners and a leader of the anti-toll movement.

Tricia Cotham said: “This toll road contract is bad for taxpayers and will burden NC for many years. We should support small businesses, families and those going to work everyday by canceling this project once and for all. We should listen to the people. “

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