Local News

Turnpike Authority Approves Funding To Study Toll Roads

Posted August 17, 2005

— The North Carolina Turnpike Authority approved $3.5 million in funding Wednesday to conduct environmental studies for new toll roads in the Triangle and others across the state.

Imagine driving south on the Durham Freeway. As you pass Interstate 40, you drop change in a tollbooth and take the Triangle Parkway to the future Interstate 540.

State leaders are laying the groundwork for new toll roads, such as the proposed Triangle Parkway, across North Carolina.

New legislation opens the door for up to nine toll roads across North Carolina. Getting specifics on when they might be built or how much the tolls may cost is tough right now. The Turnpike Authority is cautiously feeling its way.

"I think this is a grow-and-learn kind of a deal for the citizens of North Carolina," said David Joyner, executive director of the Turnpike Authority.

Along with the Triangle Parkway plan, the authority is considering proposals for toll roads near Charlotte, Wilmington and Greensboro. There is also a vision for turnpikes off Highway 70 through Wayne and Lenoir counties.

At the direction of Gov. Mike Easley, though, transportation leaders are backing off ideas of making Interstate 95 a toll road. They stress, however, that nothing is definite.

"We've got to prove to the public -- they are our customers -- that this is a good deal for them, because if our customers aren't buying it, we've missed the boat," Joyner said.

A provision in the state budget allows for putting tolls on existing roads, but Joyner said there are no immediate plans to make that happen.

As for the Triangle Parkway, leaders say that construction could start in as early as two years if there are no major obstacles.

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