Growing congestion on 540 could require toll lanes
Posted November 23, 2011
Raleigh, N.C. — Growing congestion on Interstate 540 could require an expansion of the state's first toll road, part of which is set to open to traffic next month, a regional transportation planner said Wednesday.
The Triangle Expressway is an 18-mile stretch of road that includes the western part of 540. Tolling is scheduled to begin in January on a 3.4-mile stretch that runs through Research Triangle Park.
The rest of 540 is currently free, but planner Chris Lukasina said that could change in the future.
The long-term plan for the road, slated for completion around 2035, includes widening it from six lanes to eight, Lukasina said. Two of those lanes could become toll lanes, with varying costs throughout the day depending on traffic.
"At different times of day, or as congestion picks up or slows down, they can change the toll on that particular lane," Lukasina said.
In other words, drivers will be able to pay their way into a faster lane.
"It really becomes about how do we fit this big puzzle together with what's needed and what we have to pay for it," he said. "The way we were able to afford to do that was to look at tolling on those two new lanes."
Lukasina said the future of 540 is still flexible and a widening project could happen sooner than 2035 if increases in traffic congestion outpace planners' projections.