May 19. By Michael Mezquida. The wife of a Cornelius town commissioner, who is also a Spanish professor at UNC-Charlotte, says the Spanish company Cintra will not be a good partner for the I-77 toll-lane project. Citing a number of foreign news sources, Diane Gilroy, whose husband is Town Commissioner Dave Gilroy, stated that Ferrovial Agroman, the parent company of Cintra, has a history of troubled relationships in its dealings with municipalities abroad.
“They are basically one of the most despised companies in Spain,” Gilroy said. “Their reputation is just awful.”
According to Spanish court documents, Ferrovial allegedly paid millions of dollars in payments to influential political leaders to secure large-scale public works projects. In June of 2013, the Spanish newspaper El Pais, which has the largest circulation in Spain, reported on the company’s questionable practices. Additionally, The Wall Street Journal in 2014 reported that Ferrovial was under investigation for allegedly paying kickbacks under the guise of contributions to the Palau de la Musica, a renowned concert hall in Barcelona, which relies largely on contributions from wealthy Spanish industrialists to operate.
Bill Thunberg, executive director of the Lake Norman Transportation Commission, said he personally was not aware of any impropriety, but said he believed the state most likely took appropriate and thorough actions in its investigation of Cintra before the company was considered for the I-77 job.
“To be able to be approved by the LGC (Local Government Commission) and in order to meet qualifications for bond issuance and financing, I’m sure there was a great deal of due diligence done,” Thunberg said.
When Cornelius Today contacted Ferrovial Agroman’s North American headquarters in Austin, Texas our questions were referred to I-77 Mobility Partners LLC, an independent company of Cintra. Their director of corporate affairs, Jean Leire, could not be immediately reached. And the NC-DOT’s point man, director of outreach and community affairs, Warren Cooksey had a voice mailbox that was full, and a request for a comment on the matter could not be made this afternoon.
The NC-DOT’s $655 million toll-lane project would establish high-speed toll lanes for drivers willing to pay to use them on a 26-mile stretch from Mooresville to Charlotte. Despite resolutions passed in the towns of Mooresville, Davidson, Cornelius and Huntersville to halt the toll-lane project, the NC-DOT and Governor Patrick McCrory plan to move ahead. Any uncertainty as to the state’s intentions were clarified today in a press release from the transportation department. See https://apps.ncdot.gov/NewsReleases/details.aspx?r=11157