(Cross-posted at CarolinaJournal.com)

CityLab.com, a website on urban policy published by The Atlantic Monthly, reports that the High-Occupancy Tolling project on Interstate 77 north of Charlotte won a dubious honor, making the list of 12 “highway boondoggles” identified by U.S. PIRG, a group founded by Ralph Nader.

In its report Highway Boondoggles 2: More Wasted Money and America’s Transportation Future, the I-77 project ranked sixth. Not surprisingly, the study’s authors are critical of new construction projects that encourage people to drive private passenger vehicles rather than use mass transit — preferably fixed rail.

Even so, the report notes the project has generated “significant public outcry,” which Carolina Journal has chronicled in several news reports.

From the U.S. PIRG document:

The 50-year contract between NCDOT and Mobility Partners [the private entity building the toll lanes] hamstrings public planning efforts by requiring the state to compensate Mobility Partners for any projected revenue losses that might result from other transportation improvements in the region. Projects that could divert traffic away from the toll lanes, such as adding additional free road lanes or expanding transit service, would trigger the state’s penalty payments.

You can download the 70-page document here.