Aug. 9. By Dave Vieser. Opponents of the I-77 toll lane project were dealt another blow this week when the Lake Norman Marine Commission approved the NCDOT’s application. The commission’s approval was needed because the interstate crosses Lake Norman; the commission works with Duke Energy on lake development as part of their Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license requirements.
The vote was unanimous last night at the Charles Mack Citizen Center in Mooresville. The vote was also expected.
“My understanding all along was that the Marine Commission is responsible for all matters relating to or affecting public recreation and water safety,” said Widen I-77 head Kurt Naas.
“If construction activities such as dust, or debris or drainage would affect water safety, then the Commission should have a say. But I’m not surprised the DOT and Cintra would steamroll that concern as a technicality.”
The issue had been placed on hold for two months while the marine commission asked for additional clarification on the project. However, the NCDOT brought a cadre of officials to the August meeting, including Virginia Mabry, their manager of priority projects. In response to the concerns raised by the commission since June, NCDOT officials promised to conduct visual inspections of the culverts on the I-77 causeway every two years, and a comprehensive inspection every five years.
Comments from the Marine Commission were the last approval needed before Duke Energy can act on the toll lane application.