Growing congestion on 540 could require toll lanes

Posted November 23, 2011

— 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.

Interstate 540 Growing congestion on 540 could require toll lanes

"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.


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  • mmtlash Nov 25, 2011


  • flashsparks Nov 24, 2011

    "Now if the surrounding counties must investigate HOV lanes, light rail . . ." dsdaughtry

    HOV lanes and light rail have been thoroughly researched for the Triangle area. Due to low density population and sprawling commercial districts like RTP, they just aren't economically feasible.

    I wish they were. If a train came within a mile of my house I would take it. But that's never going to happen.

  • flashsparks Nov 24, 2011

    We need to ask why our taxes don't cover road construction? Where exactly is all the taxes that we pay in this state going?

  • flashsparks Nov 24, 2011

    "Get those out-of-staters."

    Not a good idea. North Carolians will eventually pay for those tolls in higher prices for everything from groceries to, well, just about anything you buy. Trucking will have to pass those fees on to someone.

    Besides, citizens of Virginia and South Carolina are thinking the same thing.

  • Tax Man Nov 24, 2011

    Why don't we just toll every road in NC - as you leave your driveway you start paying tolls until you return at night to your home! Or maybe we should just read the computer each month for each car and charge a toll based on the total miles we each have driven during the month. Whatever happened to the taxes we collect on gas, that just happen to be the highest in the US? Why should we pay any more for our roads - oh yes, because our state government wastes all our tax money and never fix the roads/bridges. Time for a revolt against road taxes! And now they want to start taxing us on our non-road purchases to pay for some sort of rail system???? That is why I won't ever purchase anything in Durham or Orange Counties because they are adding sales taxes! Wake wants to do the same next election. We should toll everyone who comes into the state with out of state plates and leave the residents alone.

  • mfarmer1 Nov 24, 2011

    maybe they should have a toll at every intersection.

  • gibsonrj Nov 24, 2011

    Once a leach attaches to you it just keeps sucking the blood out of you.

  • Stand-In-The-Door Nov 24, 2011

    Totally agree with Claytontarheel. Toll I95. Get those out-of-staters.

  • Iworkforaliving Nov 24, 2011

    Making people pay twice for a road to travel won't make the amount of traffic any better. They will travel other roads and if there isn't other roads they will move to a city without traffic issues created by the state refusing to build roads large enough the first time around and not using the highway fund as a piggy bank to fund the rest of the states worthless programs.

  • dsdaughtry Nov 24, 2011

    540 should have been a planned toll road all along. The fact that poorly planned businesses and housing built immediately adjacent to 540 is no coincidence that it would strain traffic flow. Its like those that built houses next to the airport and complain that its too loud because of the airport. 540 was an intended interstate plan like that of the NJ Turnpike. Instead of a high speed artery county and DOT planners created this mess by not buffering properly.

    To remedy the problem tolls must be created to pay for expansion and maintenance. Now if the surrounding counties must investigate HOV lanes, light rail and other transportation options.