Raleigh, N.C. — Despite continued complaints from drivers about unexpected bills, big late fees and poor customer service, the North Carolina Department of Transportation said Thursday that the Triangle Expressway continues to see a steady increase in traffic.
Over a little more than three months, the number of toll transactions processed daily by the Turnpike Authority nearly doubled, from 960,000 in December to 1,780,000 in March. The expressway covers 18 miles in Western Wake County, from Morrisville to Holly Springs.
Vehicle traffic on the toll road was also up sharply in the first quarter of 2013, climbing from 19,800 drivers on a typical weekday in December 2012 to 24,900 vehicles in March.
N.C. DOT has sold nearly 70,000 Quick Pass transponders to date, and in January the Turnpike Authority made an agreement with E-ZPass to ensure the compatibility of its units with existing toll collection systems in other states along the Eastern seaboard.
"The Expressway is doing exactly what we had envisioned," Andy Lelewski, the state's director of toll road operations, said in a statement. "Our ridership has increased tremendously since opening Phase III in December, and we are right on track with our projections."
The third phase, which opened in December, runs from U.S. Highway 64 in Apex to the N.C. Highway 55 Bypass in Holly Springs.
On Tuesday, Lelewski acknowledged that the state still has work ahead to make the Quick Pass system easier for customers, saying he will work with the legislature to make adjustments.
Calling the Turnpike Authority's current system an "economic waste," Rep. Paul Stam, R-Wake, recently proposed legislation that would prevent the agency from mailing bills until a driver owes at least $5.
"We're always looking at our billing policies, and doing things like you said – delaying the bills going out or adjusting that time frame," Lelewski said. "We're certainly going to work with the legislature."
The Turnpike Authority meets Thursday to discuss some system changes.