I-540 Toll Road Moves Step Closer to Reality

Posted May 16, 2007

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— The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization voted Wednesday to approve long-range transportation plans that call for a toll road on a section of Interstate 540 in western Wake County.

Officials have said it will cost $800 million to complete the Western Wake Expressway, a 18.6-mile stretch of I-540 which includes a 2.8-mile segment currently under construction and set to open this summer from N.C. 54 to N.C. 55.

For a state strapped for cash, officials said tolls are an option that could cover most of the cost and move up the completion by at least 20 to 30 years. Without a toll, DOT officials said it will be 2032 before I-540 is finished. With the tolls, the work could be wrapped up by 2011.

"We do need traffic relief. We've got congestion in Wake County," said county commissioner Joe Bryan. "There's 35,000 people that are either moving here and being born here, so we'll continue to grow."

Apex Mayor Keith Weatherly was the only member against the pay-to-ride option. He argued I-540 should remain one project.

"To break it now into a toll part of it -- being completed with tolls -- is frankly a lack of faith for those people in  Apex, western Wake (County) and anyone else who use it frankly," he said.

Officials said the toll would be 10 cents per mile or about $2 for the whole stretch. They also said it will ultimately be a system similar to EZ Pass, a system used in other states that allows drivers to speed through toll stations while a device in the car connects with the booth electronically and charges the driver's account.

Based on state estimates, there is a $6 billion shortfall in terms of meeting transportation needs for Wake County over the next 25 years. Estimates also suggest the area's population will grow 42 percent by 2030.


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  • NCfriend May 18, 2007

    Yes- the toll should be put on all of 540 since it is ONE project to complete 540. This will lessen the burden on one segment- the segment that got put on the back burner while funds were available. It is unfair to us as taxpayers since our taxes went to fund the non-toll portions of the road we don't use and now we need to continue to pay taxes for that road AND pay tolls for the portion we use. Saying just don't use the road is unfair. We should have the road just like N. Raleigh has the road- but everyone should share the burden.

  • goobnav May 17, 2007

    Put things in to prespective here people, the same politicans kept getting reelected to the Gen Assembly, and State Senate and Price has representing this area forever and now his crony Miller has joined him, yeah its sounds like Republican retoric, please read on, the Ol'boys are going to continue to do what they want, spend money on themselves and others with them and not what is needed and with support of a media that will not investigate the obvious, they'll keep doing it and you'll be put in the line of fire of tolls, taxes, and pork. If you want the road your going to have to pay the toll as a price for you lack of action of not eliminating the money wasters in Washington and Raleigh, they are on both side of the isle David C., step and start telling Raleigh that our government needs to change or the next debate will be Brad, you, and me and you will not control the questions the public will submit them.

  • Nobody but Carolina May 17, 2007

    Because it's a matter of politicians in the areas where 540 is not in yet wanting it done in the next 5 to 10 years rather than what was initially scheduled being another 25 years from now. The tolls are being done to get the road built faster.

  • j-mii May 17, 2007

    I fail to see why some parts of the county get a free ride and others have to pay. I have no problems with paying a toll to use 540, I just think that it should be for all of 540, not a certain section.

  • stargazrt4 May 17, 2007

    I just won't use that stretch.

  • Bob Sidel May 17, 2007

    I dont get it, either put tolls on it or dont build it, people have a problem either way, IF YOU DONT WANT TO PAY THEN DONT USE IT, it works out the same if you think about it. If its not tolled it doesnt exist, if its tolled you dont want to pay to use it. Pretend its not there, obviously the education system still is lacking down here.

  • usnn May 17, 2007

    42% more people in 25 years means it's time to build roads now using bonds. The bonds can be paid off by the future taxes generated by these newcomers. Need to change the formula for distributing transportation dollars. If I'm elected governor, I will work to see that this happens.

    Gov Roads

  • chargernut69 May 17, 2007

    Well, it sounds like the local politicians are ready to make even more money.... Oh, by the way -- these are the same politicians that also own the land that the highway is going to be built on. Plus, they also have interest in the development companies that will be building houses, gas stations, etc. at the interchanges. Let's build the roads faster -- charge tolls -- so they can have a faster path to the money. Think I'm kidding?.. do some research on who owns the land that they are building 540 on on Apex.... (Hint - member of NC Legislature)

  • ayounggrandma May 17, 2007

    If it is a must for a toll road, why don't we make the interstates toll roads. They are the ones that are over crowded and have the most people from other states on them. Why shouldn't the actual people using the roads (Northerners with the money going south for vacation) help pay? Do not like the idea of this road being a toll road, I personally will not use it! and hope others will bypass it also!

  • Z Man May 17, 2007

    What if they built it and no-one used it?