Stretch of state's first toll road opens in Triangle

Posted December 7, 2011
Updated January 31, 2012

— After six years of planning and construction, the Triangle Parkway, a portion of the state's first modern toll road, opened to traffic Thursday.

"It feels like delivering your first child," said David Joyner, executive director of the North Carolina Turnpike Authority.

Tolls will be collected electronically along the 3.5-mile stretch of highway from Interstate 40 and N.C. Highway 147 in Durham County to N.C. Highway 540 in Wake County, starting Jan. 3.

Motorists can pay the tolls in two ways:

  • An N.C. Quick Pass transponder placed on a vehicle's windshield is detected by the toll readers. The transponder is linked to a credit card, and drivers receive a monthly statement. Transponders can be bought and payments made online or in person at the Quick Pass Customer Service Center, 200 Sorrell Grove Church Road in Morrisville.
  • Overhead cameras will snap pictures of the license plates of any vehicle without a transponder, and the vehicle's owner will be mailed a bill. People who ignore the bill will have a hold placed on their annual vehicle registration.

Tolls are 30 to 50 cents for cars with a Quick Pass and 45 to 77 cents for those without. By the time the entire 18.8-mile Triangle Expressway opens in late 2012, the tolls will average 15 cents a mile with a transponder and about 24 cents a mile without.

"The only way to get an exact rate is a ticket system, and we're not going to use a ticket system," Joyner said, noting that electronic tolling eliminates the need for drivers to stop at toll booths.

About 4,000 transponders have already been sold.

"I think that indicates most people understand you get what you pay for, and if you want a new road, if you want a new facility that's going to help you with your daily travels, you're going to have to pay something for it," North Carolina Transportation Secretary Gene Conti said.

The Turnpike Authority expects rates to increase about 5 percent a year through 2015. Money collected from the tolls will pay off about 70 percent of the $1 billion construction cost of the road.

Triangle Expressway sign Officials say NC's first toll road won't be its last

Officials said they're working with other states and major rental car companies to ensure those drivers will be penalized for not paying North Carolina tolls. Within a few months, the Quick Pass is expected to work on E-Z pass and other tolling systems along the East Coast.

Conti was in the first car to travel along the new highway after officials cut the ribbon on the road Thursday. He said North Carolina's first toll road won't be its last.

"I think tolling is going to be part of our future," he said, citing a project under construction in Monroe and one being planned in Gastonia.

Transportation officials also are considering collecting tolls along portions of Interstate 95 to pay for its modernization and creating toll lanes for high-occupancy vehicles in Charlotte, he said.

Driver Julia Sears said paying tolls on the Triangle Expressway will be worth a shorter commute.

"Right now, I live in Holly Springs and I work in Durham, so it takes me about 45 minutes to an hour to get to work every day," Sears said.

Driver Ike Woodard, of Cary, said he doesn't plan to use the toll road regularly but might find it convenient when he's in a hurry.

"If I'm late or something like that and want to get on there with the Quick Pass, I probably will get the Quick Pass. I don't want to do the pay-as-you-go thing," Woodard said.

The remaining portion of the Triangle Expressway will open in two stages.

A section from Interstate 540 to U.S. Highway 64 in Apex is expected to open in August. At that time, tolls also will be charged on the existing portion of N.C. 540 between N.C. Highways 54 and 55.

The section of the highway extending from U.S. 64 to N.C. 55 in Holly Springs will open by next December.


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  • Nancy Dec 9, 2011

    Does anyone know where the 'revenue' goes that is collected by the NCTA? Will this be used for other road projects (tolled or othewise?) or will it just be spread around the state, paid for by locals here?

  • flashsparks Dec 9, 2011

    Yay! Yippee! We now start to get taxed twice for the same thing. Time to celebate.

  • Nancy Dec 9, 2011

    "Not true...I-95/I-64 in downtown Richmond (VA) and I-95 in downtown Jacksonville (FL) used to have tolls on them but those toll booths were removed many years ago."

    And the tolls on that stretch began in 1958, ended in 1992.....

  • davidk_at_unc Dec 9, 2011

    "The public should boycott the tollway so that it goes bankrupt the same way the I-185 tollway in Greenville, SC went bankrupt because nobody used it." -- DontLikeTheSocialistObama

    And that accomplishes what exactly??? Just who do you think it is that's going to "go bankrupt" and have to pay end the end? Think about it. We'll wait.

  • davidk_at_unc Dec 9, 2011

    Stupid ! On top of that have you noticed all the "Bike LAnes" being bikers pay taxes for using the roads...NO!" -- masontom56

    Actually, I can pretty much guarantee you that most "bikers" also own motor vehicles - I have four in my family - so yes, we DO pay for using the roads!

  • WooHoo2You Dec 9, 2011

    "I'm hoping the usage is much lower than anticipated by the toll authority.

    That way they won't be planning any more toll roads. If usage is high, they will try and toll anything they can.-DontLikeTheSocialistObama

    Oh, so you then approve of socialism when it is convenient to you. You prefer then for the government to jack up taxes for everyone to pay for this project as opposed to just charging those who use the "service?"-Unbroken

    10 to 1 he has kids or had kids that went to public school with other people's money too.

  • WooHoo2You Dec 9, 2011

    "About 4,000 transponders have already been sold."

    They only need to sell another 42.9 million to break even!- YouMakeItSoEasy

    Because only people with transponders will use the road...

  • scientistjo Dec 9, 2011

    I can't wait to use this. This is going to save me lots of time. I'd actually pay triple what the toll is now.

  • davidk_at_unc Dec 9, 2011

    "Also people don't forget it will be easy enough to time you from one toll station to the next, VASCAR is alive and well, and with camera's it will be easy enough to take a picture of your plate and send you a speeding ticket in the mail. When you try to challenge it they will have a date and time picture from one booth to the next and if your speeding through every section, guess what you could end up oweing thousands in speeding tickets both coming and going to work." -- babedan

    There's a very simple solution to this. DON'T SPEED!

  • davidk_at_unc Dec 9, 2011

    "This is a crock. The road I have been traveling for years is going to be a tool road from now on." -- trafalgerfountain

    I'm guessing the road you've been traveling for years has always been a tool road.