Drivers snap up transponders for NC toll road

Posted December 29, 2011
Updated January 31, 2012

— Sales of the transponders needed to limit the cost of driving on North Carolina's first modern toll road are spiking with less than a week left before the state starts charging to drive on the road.

The 3.5-mile Triangle Parkway opened on Dec. 8, connecting Interstate 40 and N.C. Highway 147 in Durham County to N.C. Highway 540 in Wake County, but officials haven't yet collected tolls on it. The tolling starts next Tuesday.

Tolls will be collected electronically on the highway, which is the first segment of the 18.8-mile Triangle Expressway that will eventually stretch from I-40 to N.C. Highway 55 in Holly Springs.

The Turnpike Authority has already sold more than 9,300 of the N.C. QuickPass transponders that drivers can use to pay the tolls, including about 1,000 in the last two days, Chief Operating Officer Barry Mickle said Thursday. The agency had set a goal of selling 2,700 transponders by next June.

"Absolutely, we're blown away," Mickle said.

Use of the Triangle Parkway since its opening has also topped expectations, with 8,000 to 10,000 vehicles per day, officials said.

The Turnpike Authority is negotiating with other states so that the $20 encased QuickPass transponder would work on their tolling systems, and Mickle said officials hope to have those agreements in place by next summer.

For people who don't drive much outside of North Carolina, a $5 QuickPass sticker transponder is available.

Both forms of the transponder can be linked to a prepaid account or a credit or debit card for monthly billing.

NC QuickPass transponders Transponders hot-seller as tolls set to begin

Overhead cameras along the Triangle Expressway will snap pictures of the license plates of any vehicle without a transponder, and the vehicle's owner will be mailed a monthly bill. People will have two weeks to pay the bill or face additional fees and penalties.

"If you refuse to pay your bill, after it reaches a certain limit, we do have the ability to hold your (vehicle) registration," Mickle said.

Tolls are 30 to 50 cents for cars with a QuickPass and 45 to 77 cents for those without. By the time the entire 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 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.

Many drivers said they are more interested in the savings of using the toll road rather than the expense.

"The time is the main thing," driver James White said.

White said he has already purchased transponders for his car and his wife's and plans to buy a third for a company van.

Driver Greg Witucki said he has used the toll road daily in recent weeks and plans to be a regular paid user.

"I save a little bit of time going to work, so I'm all for it," Witucki said.

Driver Bill Pogue was less enthused about having to buy two transponders.

"It's part of living here and being in the community," Pogue 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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  • homefree Jan 3, 2012

    More tax's yippee......

  • lookn4spac Jan 3, 2012

    Why were our tax dollars spent to help North Raleigh folks get a free road- but WE have to have a toll? Or were the roads build without State money?

  • Pseudonym Dec 30, 2011

    Quote from T-Man: "As stated above, even if I have to pay $4 per day, I'm coming out ahead - timewise. That's $20/week to save 2.5 hours!"

    Okay, it seems I can't convince you otherwise. Just don't be surprised when you don't save as much as you think you will.

    Also don't be surprised when it winds up costing you more in terms of money AND time.

    And don't be surprised when the Turnpike Authority jacks up the rates because they're not reaching projected revenue numbers. Government types never seem to get the concept of lowering prices to increase demand.

  • T-Man Dec 30, 2011

    'The crooks can send me all the bills they want. I won't pay them because I've already paid for the road. I'll thank them for the free toilet paper.'

    Then don't drive on it. However, if you do drive on it and don't pay, good luck re-registering your car...

  • dcatz Dec 30, 2011

    Taxpayer money was used to pay for at least part of that "toll road". I will not pay to use a road that I've already paid for.

    The crooks can send me all the bills they want. I won't pay them because I've already paid for the road. I'll thank them for the free toilet paper.

    If people were not such spineless cowards and stood up to these crooks, they would not be so bold to do these things.

  • T-Man Dec 30, 2011

    Would I prefer it to be free, like it is in North Raleigh - of course. However, if it were to be free, it wouldn't be done until 2030-something...

  • T-Man Dec 30, 2011

    "Quote from T-Man: " will decrease the drive time from Apex/Holly Springs to RTP by half!"

    Doubt it. Especially with I-40 now 6 lanes between US 1 and Wade Ave."

    Well, it depends on from where you are coming. I live in Apex and it takes about 15 mins just to get to I-40. Once 540 opens to 64, I will be able to be in my office in rtp in 15 mins total, especially considering the speed limit on the new part will be 70 with no stops instead of driving on 55 with tons of stop lights and 50 mph speed limit. I will gladly pay a dollar or two per day to save 30 mins. My time is worth WAY more than that.

    "you can continue rationalizing paying a premium for something that, with a little ingenuity, you can obtain for less or even free."

    As stated above, even if I have to pay $4 per day, I'm coming out ahead - timewise. That's $20/week to save 2.5 hours!

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Dec 30, 2011

    The sheep are once again being led to slaughter.

  • mikeyj Dec 30, 2011

    Disabled Vet - I can say for a fact that NC roads really aren't that bad. kelondris; everyone that has come to visit me from up north including Virginny has made comment to me about how nice our roads are. NOW if we could get more "chain gangs out there we would be telling motorists this is not a state you wanna try your life of crime in. Just think we could slim the DOT and it's a win win.

  • timwc1953 Dec 30, 2011

    It seems to me that the only good thing about the Toll road is that you have a choice here. Ride and pay, or don't ride and let the people who think the answer to all our problems is higher taxes (and/or tolls) pay for it. North Carolina has been without thes tolls for how many years and done well, but now we have to have them. Why?. Because our legislators spend money like drunken sailors, that's why. They will NEVER get enough tax revenue. It's time people wake up and see that.