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Officials Discuss Ways to Raise Road Funds

Posted August 31, 2007

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— Exploding traffic plus dwindling road dollars could equal a big problem for drivers.

This week, the governor met with lawmakers to come up with solutions. But any decisions could be months away.

Some people have considered unconventional ways to raise funds for roadwork. Depending on where you drive and how far, you could pick up the lion's share of the tab.

One idea would tax drivers by the mile. Another could fill a funding gap to build the rest of Interstate 540.

A planned toll road on the newest section of 540 – which was designated N.C. 540 rather than being made legally part of the interstate for just that reason –was supposed to help relieve some of the congestion around Wake County. Lawmakers didn't approve the funding, so some have proposed other ways to get the job done.

I-540 is a major route around Wake County. At this point, though, it's anyone's guess when the entire loop will be finished.

“We gotta have this road. How can we do it?” said Holly Springs Mayor Dick Sears.

Sears has brought back an old idea.

“Let’s toll the whole thing. I know it’s against statutes, but statutes can be changed,” he said.

Sears said collecting tolls on existing portions of I-540 that run through the northern and eastern parts of Wake County would help pay for the sections that aren't built yet. It's those sections, including the proposed Triangle Expressway between I-540 and the Durham Freeway, where the money is coming up short.

Lawmakers were not able to agree on giving $20 million to get the road started. Sears said tolling the entire 540 loop would fill in that gap. North Carolina Turnpike Authority board member Perry Safran didn’t dispute that.

“It’s a good idea. Yes, it’s a good idea. It’s something that should be investigated,” he said.

But Safran was quick to point out that in order for it to happen, the law would have to be changed. That’s not an easy task and not the Turnpike Authority's decision.

“We’re not in the business of asking or dictating policy,” Safran said. “We work for the General Assembly.”

The future of the rest of the road was still in limbo. And while the idea of tolling it in entirety could work financially, there were still several hurdles to overcome, even on the local level.

“I feel confident that I and the Raleigh City Council would vigorously oppose tolling any of our existing roads,” said Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker.

There is still a chance that lawmakers could decide to hold a special session to talk about transportation issues. But that is not a done deal. In the meantime, the Turnpike Authority is looking at a public-private partnership to get the Expressway built. A private company would build and, in effect, lease the road and collect the tolls. The state would own it, however.

21 Comments

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  • ohmygosh Sep 2, 2007

    How about instead we put GPS on all politicians 24/7? We would know where they are holding their back door meetings and illegal fund rasing events.

    If anybody needs to be kept track of it is them.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Sep 2, 2007

    First, Governor Sleazy should restore all of the money back to the highway trust fund that he illegally stole from the highway trust fund to fund his FAILED More at Four and other Socialist programs.

    This would go a long way towards paying for the new section of I-540 without tolling roads.

    Also, we can do without building expressways to no where down east that have almost no traffic, including the new 250 million dollar bypass around Goldsboro so politicians can reach their beach house quicker.

  • dcayless Sep 1, 2007

    Heh! Tax Nifong!

  • pbjbeach Sep 1, 2007

    IT SEEMS TO ME THAT AS LONG AS ALL OF THE HIGHWAY FUNDING FOR THE LAST PAST FIFTY YEARS HAS BEEN BEING DESIGINATED TO THE AREAS OF THE STATE FROM WEST OF I-95 EVERYTHING WAS JUST A-OK. BUT ONCE JUST A LITTLE OF THE FUNDING STARTS TO PARTIALLY FIND IT'S WAY DOWN EAST THAT EVERYBODY AN THEIR BROTHER STARTS TO RAISING HOLLY H--- . AN EVEN AT THIS THE BECAUSE OF THE POLITICAL IMPLICATIONS THE NORTHEASTERN CORNER OF THIS STATE HAS BEEN TOTALLY ISOLATED FROM ANY KIND OF HIGHWAY FUNDING OUR ROADS UP HERE ARE VETRITUALY FALLING A PART AN CONTRACTORS IN THIS STATE SHOULD SHARE IN THIS DUE TO THE SHODDY WORK THAT I FEEL IN MY OPINION THEY ARE BEING ALLOWED TO GET AWAY WITH

  • joco cruiser Sep 1, 2007

    How about a gas tax?

  • colliedave Sep 1, 2007

    Tax the politicians.

  • Tax Man Sep 1, 2007

    As soon as NC tries to make GPS mandatory on all cars and to charge by the mile you will see the DMV lose millions of registered cars/trucks/suvs and SC, GA, VA, WVA and TN will get all those registrations - not to mention all the new PO Boxes rented in those states. If it were not for the reasonable auto insurance here lots of folks would register their cars elsewhere to avoid the personal property taxes - but if you try to "monitor" road use they will move the vehicles! Mr. Sleazly needs to put all the money back into the Highway Trust Fund, with Interest and Penalties - then see how much money we have for I-540 - I do not believe in any tolls, but I sure would not accept tolling the little stretch of 540 in RTP - plus, they (DOT) totally screwed up the 540 - 40 offramps and it is much more crowded now than it was before the new 540 opened! So they want to add toll booths and make our commute a lot longer? I will not use the 540 if it is tolled!

  • thewayitis Sep 1, 2007

    "“Let’s toll the whole thing. I know it’s against statutes, but statutes can be changed,” he said. " Holly Springs Mayor Dick Sears.

    What planet is this guy from? And there are those who wonder why the people have no confidence in the government. It's for reasons such as this -- oh, yeah, it doesn't matter that we're not supposed to put a toll on existing roads, we'll just change the rules. Who cares what we told THE PEOPLE in the past? It's OK to lie...And then, what about that temporary tax that became permanent? I have never been as disillusioned with the government in NC as I am right now. They don't give a rat's behind about the people that they are supposed to represent. They just do whatever they want regardless...Hey, it's only money after all...It doesn't matter that the cost of living is rising faster than salaries. That's a problem for the little people to worry about...

  • Just One Opinion Sep 1, 2007

    Do Not think for a moment the the Jones Street boys are stumped on this slight set-back for funding 540 or anything else that their collective little hearts desire.

    They will appear to exhaust all avenues and then "BAM" it will come to them in a flash ~ ~ ~ Raise the "sin" tax.

    That's an easy one - all those nasty smokers and drinkers can spare some more money and the masses will love it because we can call it the "sin" tax.

    But wait, we can expand the "sin" category and get more. Your SUV will become a sin - Your luxury home (over a certain dollar amount) will become even a bigger sin (ie" more money).

    Come on Jones street, what's happened to your creativity, just declare more things a "sin" and tax away ~ ~ everybody will love you for that.

    Don't laugh ~ ~ this is coming. (OK laugh a little, if weren't so pathetic it could be funny).

  • lou1996 Sep 1, 2007

    politicians must not sleep at all. it seems they stay up 24/7, trying to figure out ways to ad more taxes. and this gps thing, seems more like big brother to me.

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