August 21, 2018/Press

NCGA Republicans, Sen. Tarte Gave I-77 Tolls the Green Light Before Being Against Them

Raleigh – Flashback to May 2013. “Harlem Shake” was on every radio. Louisville basketball celebrated a national championship they’d later vacate. And toll roads on I-77 had just gotten the green light from the McCrory administration and Republican lawmakers in Raleigh, including Senator Jeff Tarte, who called them the “least onerous of the alternatives.”

Republicans are now tripping over themselves to criticize the state for not magically canceling the I-77 toll contract. But many of those same Raleigh Republicans gave the original contract the go-ahead. Here’s Sen. Tarte specifically:

Though the General Assembly could stop the [I-77 toll road] project by reversing its 2012 approval, that’s unlikely according to Brawley and other Republicans in the GOP-controlled General Assembly.

Tarte calls toll lanes “the least onerous of the alternatives” with which to pay for the widening. Better, he says, than higher fuel taxes or taxing motorists on the actual miles they drive.

“We’ve got to figure out how to pay for it,” he said. “And current methods aren’t going to get it done. We can’t catch up. We’re getting further behind.”

That’s not the only time that Tarte has been out of touch with Mecklenburg. Two years later, he said, “It doesn’t make a lot of sense to have 80% of the population actually wanting the tolls and you’ve got a loud group of 200 saying no we don’t.”

Make no mistake: Tarte is now trying to stake out his claim against the toll roads because he’s about to lose his seat to Natasha Marcus while his North Mecklenburg constituents fume over his refusal to work constructively to fix the toll road.

The unserious plan that Sen. Tarte now touts as an example of his work would cripple more than a dozen transportation projects across Mecklenburg and Iredell county for years to come. On top of that, he voted for a bad budget that made it harder for the state to cancel the I-77 toll project. Sen. Tarte has already made his bed. Now he has to lay in it.

“Senator Jeff Tarte and the other legislative Republicans who supported the I-77 tolls from the beginning are now desperate to point fingers for this terrible contract,” NCDP Executive Director Kimberly Reynolds said. “But instead of working with the Cooper Administration to ease traffic, address cost concerns, and hold Cintra accountable, they have only voted to protect the contract or propose an alternative that would make the damage worse. Families are right to be frustrated by this bad deal and they should hold double-speaking politicians like Jeff Tarte accountable.”

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