Toll road bill survives second vote

Posted May 21, 2013

— The Department of Transportation would be able to add toll lanes to highways under a bill that cleared the state House Tuesday.

All existing highway lanes would have to remain free under the measure. But if highways were expanded, the department could toll them in order to pay for the construction. In order to entice people to drive on the tolled lanes, the department could offer limited access and higher speed limits.

The measure was thought to have passed the House Thursday. But it is a "roll call" bill, meaning it could potentially raise money. Such bills must be voted on two separate days. So it was back before the House Tuesday. 

Although it passed 113-0 on Thursday, there was controversy on today's vote. That's because unnoticed by some members, a provision that would have required the General Assembly to sign off on any toll road before it could be built had been removed.

Rep. Jeff Collins, R-Nash, told members that his deal to get the bill done with the DOT and state Senate was predicated on that provision being left out. 

That didn't stop Rep. Michael Speciale, R-Craven, from offering an amendment to add the language back in.

"I don't think it's a good idea to leave it in DOT's hands which roads get tolled and which don't," he said, adding that was a decision for elected policy makers not "unelected bureaucrats." 

Rep. Bill Brawley, R-Mecklenburg, said Speciale's amendment would inject politics back into road making decisions, something the legislature had been trying to avoid.

Brawley and Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, also pointed out that there were pending toll projects in their districts which the prior-approval language could derail.

"Let us finish our toll road," Dollar said, referring to the I-540 project.

The amendment failed 16-99. The bill itself passed 108-7. It will now be heard in the Senate. 


This blog post is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • Bendal1 May 22, 2013

    Oh, and NC has higher gas taxes than the surrounding states because NCDOT maintains nearly all the roads in the state (we're #2 in the nation in state-maintained roads) and they do not.

  • Bendal1 May 22, 2013

    This bill, imo, stinks. Forcing DOT to keep the current lanes on interstates as "free" means any further widening with the intent to use tolls to pay for the new lanes will be much more expensive. I-95, for example. If all the lanes were tolled, the median could be used to add the lanes for the most part, with only minor work on the outside. Now though, the toll lanes have to be barrier separated from the free lanes, new ramps added for the toll lanes, electronic gates added, etc, all which will cost much, much more than just adding two more lanes.

    Basically this kills any chance to toll any existing interstate in this state. It also means further widening of any existing interstate will have to wait until the normal funding is available, which could be years if not decades past when the widening is needed. I'm not a fan of tolling but it's an option the legislature just killed.

  • 68_dodge_polara May 22, 2013

    I really had hoped that with the GOP in charge that this sham would have been stopped.

  • 68_dodge_polara May 22, 2013

    "The fact the toll roads ever started here shows that the formula for allocating gas taxes doesn't work."

    Not true, we have the highest gas taxes in the southeast and the other states with much lower gas taxes are not creating toll roads.

    Here is the difference between NC and the states around us, the highway trust fund, where the gas tax revenues go, is raided every year to supplement the general fund. Which means we pay gas taxes which are not just used for roads and now we are expected to pay tolls for any new road construction which means we pay twice for each road built so the state of North Carolina can use road funds for other things.

  • ezLikeSundayMorning May 22, 2013

    The fact the toll roads ever started here shows that the formula for allocating gas taxes doesn't work. So in order to build roads in high traffic corridors they resorted to tolls. Change the formula, raise the gas tax, and get rid of all tolls on NC roads. Or if gas tax isn't workable, switch to miles driven (with some recognition for varying wear and tear on the roads by heavier vehicles).

  • 68_dodge_polara May 22, 2013

    Where is it all going? Oh ya to those who don't work...

  • 68_dodge_polara May 22, 2013

    Throw... not Through. Paying for these road improvements twice has me so mad I can't think strait.

    I mean straight...

    Taxes are higher then they have ever been in our lifetime and our tax dollars can't be used to build roads so we can just get to work? Where is it all going?

  • 68_dodge_polara May 22, 2013

    Through nails in those lanes to stop this nonsense

  • LuvLivingInCary May 22, 2013

    typical buearacrats wanting more money.