Local News

Wake County Mayors Must Approve Toll For I-540

Posted August 3, 2006

— All 12 Wake County mayors would have to agree to a plan to build a toll on existing Interstate 540 before the state can begin construction.

The affected part of I-540 in the Triangle is the so-called Western Wake Freeway, which runs from the Research Triangle Park through Morrisville and Apex to N.C. Highway 55.

The three-mile segment could see traffic by December, which would make it the state's first toll road since the authority was created in 2002. However, legislation approved by lawmakers last week requires that tolling on existing roadways first approved by a local planning organization.

"While we all have individual votes, we'll pay close attention to what the mayors in Western Wake want to do," said Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker. "And that's likely what the rest of the mayors will vote to do."

But Apex Mayor Keith Weatherly said Thursday that his "comfort level isn't where it needs to be to make a decision."

Many drivers are telling Weatherly they do not want to be taxed twice, first to pay for the road, and second, to pay the toll.

"Is it fair to charge tolls? What about the timetable without tolls and is it a good deal for us to be the first ever toll road in North Carolina? Frankly, there are so many uncertainties, my list of questions far exceeds the answers I've been given," Weatherly said.

The timetable, however, turns the road question into a quandry.

Right now, the projected path for much of I-540 is open fields and farmland. Many of the mayors have said if they do not go with tolls, no construction could start in the area until 2025.

The county's mayors are expected to vote on the I-540 toll on Aug. 16.


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