I-77 HOT lanes: A bargain or a $400M gamble?

A new “public-private partnership” in North Carolina appears to put hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars at risk while guaranteeing profit for a company that has run into trouble in other states. The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) announced in April that it had selected a contractor to take on the task of widening the congested 26-mile corridor of I-77 north of Charlotte. The project calls for the addition of a high-occupancy/toll (HOT) lane and the conversion of the existing high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane into another HOT lane. Cintra Infraestructures, a Spanish company, was selected to design, build, and maintain the improved roadway – and collect the tolls. The term of the contract is 50 years.