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Weekly News Roundup: Cintra Will Pay For Missing Toll Lane Deadline
Oct. 27 - Nov. 2, 2019

By Ryan Pitkin

November 3, 2019

Cintra To Be Fined for Missing Toll Lane Deadline

The North Carolina Department of Transportation this week confirmed that I-77 Mobility Partners (IMP), the contractor in charge of implementing toll lanes on Interstate 77 between Charlotte and Mooresville, will have to pay $30,000 in fines for every day construction goes past Thursday’s deadline. The deadline was originally set for January 2019, but the IMP, a subsidiary of Spain-based company Cintra, was able to dodge extra fees at that time due to additions to the contract. 

(Photo courtesy of Cintra)

In a statement this week, IMP spokesperson Jean Leier blamed the hold up on several obstacles, including new direct connectors between I-77 and Interstate 85, funded by her company; NCDOT-funded roadway rehabilitation; and the construction of new ramps from the toll lanes at Lakeview and Hambright roads, funded by the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization, among other things. 

The toll lane project is broken into three sections, which are all unfinished. IMP will have to pay $10,000 per section every day that said section is not finished. The company can appeal the decision, which was made in response to a proposed deadline extension request filed by IMP earlier this month. 

Leier says IMP still expects to finish the project sometime this fall. 


Consent Loophole Closed in North Carolina 

After a five-year effort spearheaded by local N.C. Sen. Jeff Jackson, the North Carolina General Assembly finally closed a loophole in the state’s sexual assault laws that took away the victim’s right to withdraw consent once they had entered into a consensual sex act. The “consent loophole,” as it was often referred to, made North Carolina the last state in the country where withdrawing consent was not legal grounds for a sexual assault charge. 

The loophole has been in the North Carolina law books for 40 years. Another loophole, which made it legal to have sex with someone who is incapacitated if that person’s condition was caused by their own actions — such as consuming drugs or alcohol — was the result of a 2008 court ruling. A new sexual assault bill passed unanimously by both the state Senate and House of Representatives closed both of the loopholes. Gov. Roy Cooper, a vocal supporter of Jackson’s efforts, is expected to sign the bill into law. 

The consent loophole clauses were tacked on to Senate Bill 199, which will expand the requirement to report child abuse, extend the statute of limitations for a civil action for child sexual abuse and tighten the ban on online contact with children for high-risk sex offenders. 

“In the process of fighting for this for many years, I spoke to countless women who had been though this experience. I just want to say to them: Your stories made this happen. We heard you and we took action. It took away too long, but we got there,” Jackson tweeted on Thursday. 


Homegrown Data Analytics Company Announces Multi-Million Dollar Expansion

Following the recent announcement of a big expansion for Microsoft in Charlotte, homegrown data analytics company Stratifyd has followed suit, announcing on Thursday that the company will expand its presence in the city by adding at least 200 jobs to its current workforce and moving to a new 30,000-square-foot office located within an opportunity zone in the FreeMoreWest neighborhood. 

(Photo courtesy of Stratifyd)

Stratifyd is a tech start-up launched in 2015 by former University of North Carolina at Charlotte professor Derek Wang and two students, Li Yu and Thomas Kraft. Stratifyd is one of the fastest-growing technology firms in Charlotte. The company has doubled its number of employees over the past year and has a customer base primarily made of Fortune 1,500 companies. 

“It’s amazing to see the rapid growth of Charlotte, from my years of research at UNC Charlotte to now, and it’s an honor to be a part of it,” Wang said. “Our success is a true testament to our talented team, who are dedicated to challenging the status quo and pushing the boundaries of technology.” 
 
Stratifyd has been a leader in artificial intelligence and machine-learning technology in Charlotte since its founding. The company has participated in career fairs, hosted hackathons, and is a business sponsor for the UNC Charlotte College of Computer and Informatics. Stratifyd also works with Carolina Fintech Hub’s Workforce Investment Network to create new pathways for untapped talent, partners with the Dottie Rose Foundation to host Girls in Technology days and plans to donate 1% of its topline revenue to invest back into the Charlotte community.  
 
“The Charlotte region has become a hotbed of business technology and advancement, and we’ve seen how developing companies value what we have to offer,” said Mayor Vi Lyles. “Homegrown companies, like Stratifyd, have helped us to earn that reputation and I hope it continues to grow and prosper, while promoting our city in the process.”  
 

North Charlotte Pocket Park Opens as Part of Placemaking Program

The city opened the first of seven projects taking place throughout the city as part of a placemaking program that will implement projects in each of the city’s seven city council districts. City leaders hosted a ribbon cutting for the opening of The Green at Prosperity Village on Friday. The 1.36-acre outdoor space at the intersection of Benfield and Johnston-Oehler roads is now open for recreation, education and community events.
 
(Rendering courtesy of City of Charlotte)
 
The Green at Prosperity Village was originally brought to the city’s attention as a potential placemaking project during Stitch Together CLT, a free mentorship and community-building program the city held over six months in 2017 and 2018.
 
“Participants from the very active Prosperity Village Area Association have used Docia Crossing for community events, but they really wanted and needed a civic open space,” said Erin Chantry, principal planner and urban designer with the city’s Department of Planning, Design and Development. “This one acre of leftover right-of-way and city-owned property was the perfect place for us to build our first open space through the Placemaking Program. It was a win-win all around.” Chantry said. 
 
The city’s Placemaking Program uses urban design and other tools to transform underutilized or overlooked public spaces into welcoming areas that reflect the surrounding community and its people. The Green at Prosperity Village is one of seven projects through the city’s CLT 250 Placemaking Program to debut in 2019 and exemplifies how quick action can implement a community vision and improve quality of life. 
 
To further enhance its placemaking efforts, Charlotte officials want residents to come to the table, contribute ideas, lead projects and work together to accomplish public space goals. Visit charlottenc.gov/placemaking to learn more about tools and opportunities available to help bring ideas to life.  

 


Man and Woman Killed in Separate Shootings

A woman was killed in the early morning hours on Sunday morning last week, while a man succumbed to injuries from a shooting that occurred in east Charlotte nine days prior. The two deaths bring the current total number of homicides in Charlotte in 2019 to 94. 
 
Shandiin Sanchez

Just before 5 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 27, police responded to a shooting call on Riverbirch Drive in the Steele Creek area of southwest Charlotte and found 20-year-old Shandiin Sanchez lying dead in the roadway near an apartment complex. The investigation into her murder continues. 

 
On Wednesday, police announced that 20-year-old Darnel Mills had died of gunshot wounds sustained during a shooting that occurred on East W.T. Harris Boulevard in east Charlotte on Monday, Oct. 21. That day, officers found Mills suffering from a gunshot wound next to a Nissan Sedan that had pulled off the road during heavy traffic at about 9:20 a.m. Investigation found that Mills was the passenger in the car when he was shot, and the driver had fled. Further investigation led detectives to arrest 41-year-old Kehlan Johnson. Upon Mills’ death, Johnson was charged with murder. 

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