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Behind the Business: Cintra – Leveraging Partnerships to Build a More Connected North Carolina

| Infrastructure

Editor’s Note: The NC Chamber is currently leading the Destination 2030 Coalition – an alliance of businesses and business-minded organizations, of which Cintra is a member – in a conversation aimed at securing a modernized revenue formula for state-funded transportation projects in North Carolina. Ultimately, the work of the coalition will help to inform the Chamber’s transportation agenda in 2021 and beyond. Don’t miss your chance to be a part of this important effort – click here and add your organization to the Destination 2030 Coalition today.

With more than a half-century of experience engineering mobility solutions for communities across four continents, Cintra is widely recognized as a global leader in the development of world-class transportation infrastructure. The company, whose U.S. division is headquartered in Austin, Texas, manages a portfolio that includes 25 concession projects spanning nine countries, nearly 1,000 highway miles, and more than $24 billion in infrastructure assets – including nearly $11 billion here in the U.S.

Cintra’s road projects consistently yield extensive benefits for the people they serve, strengthen connections between communities, create high-impact jobs, and multiply economic opportunities along development corridors. Here in North Carolina, residents of the Charlotte region have begun to realize many of these benefits thanks to the late 2019 opening of the I-77 Express project – one of the company’s signature assets. A public-private partnership between the N.C. Department of Transportation and Cintra’s local subsidiary, I-77 Mobility Partners, I-77 Express encompasses 26 miles of tolled express lanes running adjacent to I-77’s general purpose lanes, from uptown Charlotte to Exit 36 in Mooresville.

Construction of the I-77 Express project brought significant economic benefits to the Charlotte region, employing more than 244 firms – many of them local – and engaging more than 4,600 workers. It also provided substantial development opportunities for the region’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs). The project achieved 200% of its engagement goal for DBEs, resulting in more than $119 million paid to these firms. Since the full opening of I-77 Express in November 2019, the new express lanes have hosted more than seven million individual trips – a number that would be considerably higher if not for the severe traffic reductions early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The early adoption rates of I-77 Express, despite the impacts of the pandemic, are a strong testament that North Carolina motorists want enhanced travel options to get to their destinations quickly, safely, and more reliably,” said Cintra U.S. Vice President of Corporate Affairs Patrick Rhode. “We have made it easy for customers to take advantage of I-77 Express by ensuring its compatibility with the NC Quick Pass program and with other transponder programs widely available in North Carolina. Here at Cintra, we are proud to partner with NCDOT and local firms to provide this important service that enhances the daily travel experience for thousands of residents and visitors in the Charlotte area.”

Now that I-77 Express is complete, Cintra will continue to oversee and maintain the 26-mile stretch of roadway covered by the project through its I-77 Mobility Partners subsidiary. Users of the new express lanes will not be the only beneficiaries of this arrangement. Tolls collected from use of these lanes will also go toward development of the non-tolled general purpose lanes and bridges, ensuring a better experience for all drivers. Cintra’s management of I-77 Express has already resulted in numerous infrastructure improvements along the corridor. These enhancements include additional interchanges with I-85, new entry and exit points with cross-streets in the Lake Norman area, a redesigned interchange with I-277 providing easier access to main streets leading to uptown Charlotte, safer amenities for cross-corridor bridges, and a newly constructed pedestrian tunnel running under I-77 in Huntersville.

For North Carolina, the importance of investing in the future of our transportation infrastructure cannot be overstated. A recent report sponsored by the NC Chamber Foundation and conducted by N.C. State’s Institute for Transportation Research and Education (ITRE) has highlighted the critical role transportation investments can play in spurring economic activity along development corridors. With our state at risk of falling behind regional competitors like Georgia and Tennessee in securing a sustainable transportation funding model, we are fortunate to have global transportation leaders like Cintra committing to the long-term development of world-class infrastructure projects here in North Carolina.

Behind each business in North Carolina are the ideas, partnerships and people that fuel our state’s success. Behind each business is a story and a vision for the future. As the voice for business, the NC Chamber is committed to telling these stories and highlighting the organizations and people that keep our state moving forward. Behind the Business is a series of profiles featuring NC Chamber Cornerstone members doing great work in North Carolina. Interested in being featured? Contact