Raleigh, N.C. — The North Carolina Turnpike Authority wants to build and operate an extension of Interstate 540 as a toll road, but one man's fight against tolls is already under way.
David McDowell recently started a Web site -- www.notollson540.org. The Web site has toll-related stories, updates on petition drives, and reasons why he does not want I-540 to be a toll road.
"I don't think that a portion of Wake County should have to pay tolls when another portion of the county does not," he said.
"We understand that there's public anxiety over toll roads. There always is," said David Joyner, executive director of the N.C. Turnpike Authority.
Joyner said the current plan would keep I-540 free across north Raleigh and put tolls on the highway through western Wake County, but it is a matter of money.
"The dollar's not going nearly as far today as it did just 10 years ago. In fact, we're getting about 50 percent of the buying power from our gas tax as we were just 10 years ago," he said.
The N.C. Turnpike Authority received special legislation to turn I-540 near Highway 55 into a toll road a few years after it opens as a free road. The legislation remains a topic of debate.
"The state is not telling people what's going on. They're going to try to force tolls upon us, and I don't think it's right," McDowell said.
The N.C. Turnpike Authority said it has nothing to hide. McDowell said North Carolina used to be the "Good Roads" state, and he does not want it to become the "Toll Road" state.