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Lawmakers Debate Funding for Toll Road

Posted July 6, 2007
Updated July 7, 2007

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— The debate rolls on as state lawmakers consider a budget that includes funding for what would be the Triangle’s first toll road.

N.C. Turnpike Authority officials said the agency is depending on $20 million in gap funding from the state to build the Triangle Expressway in western Wake County. The proposed expressway would run from the Durham Freeway through Research Triangle Park to Interstate 540.

Gap funding covers the difference between road costs and toll revenues.

“Without the gap funding, the project certainly is in question,” said Steve DeWitt with the Turnpike Authority.

“There are other ways to do it, although they’re not quite as palatable. Private market, through a public-private partnership, is an option. It's not the best option for this state, but it is an option,” said DeWitt.

State Sen. Neal Hunt, a member of the Senate Transportation Committee, said the committee is still undecided on gap funding, although state lawmakers hope to settle the issue by July 16.

“If they do have the gap funding for the toll road, it will come from general revenues and will be in the budget. But bottom line is we won’t know until we see it,” said Hunt, R-Wake County.

If the General Assembly approves the gap funding, the Triangle Expressway would become the state’s first toll road in around a hundred years.

The state’s first toll road was a turnpike built in Lenoir County in the early 1900s. The term ‘turnpike’ originated from the piece of wood that the operator would turn up to allow travelers to continue on the road.

“The toll, whatever it was, would often depend on how he (the turnpike operator) felt that day,” said DeWitt.

The decision on whether toll roads will return to North Carolina rests with the House and Senate Conference Committee.

38 Comments

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  • 68_polara Jul 9, 2007

    Every year the Highway fund is raided for the general fund to support programs the left keeps shoving down our throats.

    The middle-class in this country is increasingly squeezed, but not by government
    Baloney...

    Look at what you now pay in taxes, not just income taxes but sales taxes, city and county property taxes, auto registration and inspections taxes,and all other user fee taxes. We now pay more than 50% of our income to taxes. How much would be enough Durham-Raleigh?

    People feel powerless about this and don't understand the macroeconomic causes.
    Man, now this is Baloney... Read what the John Locke Foundation has to say or are you afraid you might find out they are right Durham-Raleigh?

  • Durham-Raleigh Jul 8, 2007

    "'cutting waste' ain't the answer... that's long been done."

    So how do you know this is a true statement?

    ---

    Er -- because it's the same song that right-wingers like the John Locke Foundation have been using since the 1980s, in state after state in the country?

    It's an appealing argument. The middle-class in this country is increasingly squeezed, but not by government -- the US has one of the lowest tax burdens of any Western country. That said, overall wages for the middle-class have been stagnant or falling for decades, thanks to increased outsourcing, commoditization, the rise of franchising and national corporate retailers, etc.

    People feel powerless about this and don't understand the macroeconomic causes. In turn, blaming the 'gummint' is easy and feels good. Sure, there must be waste there!

    Funny, the folks decrying government waste are the same ones who call for government to avoid land use planning, to allow developers to bring the pains of growth on us.

  • lolly Jul 8, 2007

    "'cutting waste' ain't the answer... that's long been done."

    So how do you know this is a true statement?

  • Durham-Raleigh Jul 8, 2007

    "So how long have you worked for DOT?"

    Er, I don't work for the government at all. However, I've lived in many other states and have experienced much worse roads, schools, etc. in truly low-tax states.

  • lolly Jul 8, 2007

    "I'm happy to pay them to keep our roads in good shape."

    So how long have you worked for DOT?

  • strolling bones Jul 8, 2007

    NC was named a tax hell by fortune 500. Yes our taxes are high in regard to the services we receive in return.

  • Durham-Raleigh Jul 7, 2007

    I don't understand why people get so worked up on this subject. Facts:

    1) NC's gas tax exists because the state pays for most roads, not counties/cities, as in most parts of the US. NC has the second-largest state-mngd. road network in the US, after TX.

    2) Other places, you'd be paying tolls and property tax for roads. We're just paying a different way here.

    3) Does anyone really think our taxes are high?? From a national comparative perspective, NC is right in the middle of states, neither on the high side or low side in re taxes.

    I am happy with the quality of roads but we desperately need to build more roads NOW to avoid drowning in traffic. Sorry, folks, but 'cutting waste' ain't the answer... that's long been done. Tolls, gas tax, income tax, property tax -- I'm happy to pay them to keep our roads in good shape.

  • ladyblue Jul 7, 2007

    Thanks go panthers for telling felixthecat where to take her meows to. I think it's unfair to tax just the main road that most people use to go to work. The know that RTA has more workers going to work to and fro each day. I've always felt they should toll I95 and I85 because that hits a lot of tourist who are using our roads for nothing.

  • JBunny Jul 7, 2007

    felixthecat,

    Happily, I was educated up North (high school) and went to college on the West Coast.

    Now I'm here.

    And I try to make sure that all my statements are worded correctly.

    ;0)

  • bsmith17603 Jul 7, 2007

    These state senators need to hearthe people of NC. Either they are deaf or retarded. We do not want anymore taxes in this state and I am tired of talking.
    It is time every citizen needs to send emails to their representative opposing any new taxes.
    Better yet we needto elect a different party and clean house

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