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NC planning group approves toll lanes for I-77

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - A two-county planning group has given unanimous approval to build toll lanes on a portion of Interstate 77 despite protests from critics.

The Charlotte Observer reports (http://bit.ly/122gD2v ) Mecklenburg-Union Metropolitan Planning Organization voted Wednesday to amend its transportation plans to include the $550 million project. The toll lanes would be built on the interstate from Charlotte to Mooresville.

A leading Republican lawmaker and a senior transportation department official said Thursday that work on the new toll lanes could start next year. Jim Trogdon, the N.C. Department of Transportation's chief operating officer, said officials hope to open bids in August with construction starting in 2014.

Rep. Bill Brawley of Matthews, who co-chairs the House Transportation Committee, said lawmakers have come to see toll lanes as "the least bad answer" to I-77 congestion.

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Information from: The Charlotte Observer, http://www.charlotteobserver.com

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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