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Toll traffic increases despite driver complaints

Posted May 2, 2013

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— 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.

89 Comments

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  • davidgnews May 3, 7:45 p.m.

    When was Pat going instill that 'improved customer service attitude' in state government?

  • martha7 May 3, 3:58 p.m.

    Not to worry if your friends that use I 540 are toll free. According to the Turnpike Authority's website, under Southeast Extension faq's, the Northern part will be tolled in the future to fund needed improvements. Now THAT will cause a traffic jam on the free roads!

  • original intent May 3, 2:32 p.m.

    Now we are beginning to get a traffic jam on the 55 bypass @ 5 pm each day..

  • goldenosprey May 3, 9:23 a.m.

    Ripe for a class action lawsuit. Before too long an opportunistic attorney will send mailers to those who have been burned for a certain amount of late fees.

  • disgusted2010 May 2, 7:59 p.m.

    Maybe a better story for WRAL would be to expose the overhead for the toll authority and the excessive salaries paid to the employees. And while you are at it look at the people who were fired from there and where they landed, what they are actually doing and how much they are paid.

  • BANMD May 2, 6:25 p.m.

    Increase? Lies. They are just making you THINK things are picking up. Bad press make for loss of income so they just want you to thinks things are okay. Just stop using the toll road, go back to using the old routes. Make them worry! They all have IQ's of a cumquat!

  • Pseudonym May 2, 5:53 p.m.

    Take it or don't take it. I don't care.

    I will say I think all of you who take it are spending more money than you anticipated and spending more time on the road than you think.

  • corey3rd2 May 2, 4:29 p.m.

    Quagmire doesn't understand that there are a lot of people getting billed by the toll office when plates are misread. And when you are fighting this charge, the Toll Authority doesn't suspend the bill so you get fined as you argue the mistake. And then the head of the Toll Authority has the nerve to act like this doesn't happen. It's a shakedown. It's a racket. You should be able to call the police on these people for fraud, but I guess they're licensed mobsters.

  • fl2nc2ca2md2nc May 2, 4:28 p.m.

    How long does it take to receive a bill? I drove on the toll road three weeks ago and have yet to get a bill in the mail...

  • chuckbiscuits May 2, 4:22 p.m.

    "What are people really getting for the extra money they're paying?"




    I think the scenario was that there was not enough money in the DOT coffers to build the to build it in the first place. So what they got was the actual construction of the road. Future improvements will likely be prioritized with the rest of our infrastructure needs, but the funding will come from just tolls or a combination of tolls and budget.

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