Budget bill fuels Turnpike Authority's plans for Triangle toll road

Posted July 8, 2008

— One line in the budget approved Tuesday by the General Assembly could make toll roads a reality.

The $21 billion spending plan includes $25 million a year for the North Carolina Turnpike Authority’s Triangle Expressway project, which would be the state's first toll road and would open by 2010.

The toll road is supposed to connect N.C. Highway 147 to N.C. Highway 540 and extend 540 to Holly Springs.

David Joyner, Turnpike Authority executive director, said Tuesday that a contract for the 18-mile project should be awarded by October and construction should be under way by year’s end.

The technology that the authority plans to use for toll-collection requires no cash and no stopping. There would be no toll booths, just an overhead gantry with receivers to collect each vehicle’s information.

For westbound traffic on existing 540, the first toll gantry would be just past N.C. Highway 54 near the Davis Drive exit.

Coming from Holly Springs, the authority expects the toll road to save drivers up to 20 minutes per trip.

That adds up, Joyner said to “10,000 minutes a year or seven full days that you can buy back to your life by taking this road.”

Driver Jonathan Philpot figures time is money.

“It's a whole lot easier than trucking your way through all the different streets and roads and stuff,” Philpot said.

James Walker, another motorist says no. It would be, he said, “just not worth it for me.”

He prefers N.C. 55 – the free alternative that runs parallel to the toll road.

With congestion on Triangle highways expected only to worsen, state legislators say they are helping to fund the 540 toll road because, otherwise, this project would not get built for decades.

The authority is supposed to take down the tolls when the debt is paid off.


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  • turnpike420 Jul 10, 2008

    ever heard of the equity plan? it keeps funding in NC such that there are immaculate 4 lane highways where there are more cows than people per square mile, hurting growing urban areas of their needed funding. Why? The equity plan distributes funding equally across the state, instead of on an AS-NEEDED basis. I'd like to thank the rural Legislators for screwing the urban areas of NC.

  • oldcmag Jul 9, 2008

    Ok here is my gripe ! I do not see the need for the toll road in the first place ! there is allready a exit for 55 off I 40 and yes it's free !! I have no problem with toll roads but if you plan to make the people who live in the southern and western parts of wake county pay a tax, Then all the people who travel all of 540 should pay a tax as well fair is fair after all !

  • davidgnews Jul 9, 2008

    If our NC lawmakers had not been raiding the highway fund there would be no need for toll roads, but they just cannot stand for money being held for what it was raised for so they waste it on other things. Just like the congress is doing with our social security taxes. ridgerunner

    Sure got that right. Again, our hands are tied and the cronyism continues.

  • JustAName Jul 9, 2008

    Tax Man, and then you will be one of those people making the real license plate.

    The tolls are coming. I can't imagine them getting much revenue from the side they are putting it on, it's only busy for an hour or so at night during the week.

    Tolls are bad, but I have to agree about the I-95 one. Put 2 lanes on each side, toll only, express only. Let those DC to Miami drivers pay $10 and skip our state.

  • Tax Man Jul 9, 2008

    I will be selling "special" license plate covers on
    eBay if this goes forward - they will be duplicates of Mr Easley's plate as well as Mr Joyner's plate - magnetic, just apply over your plate before you hit the toll road, and remove when you get off. Send a real message to the governor and his political hacks! Oh yeah, they will be free, just pay the postage!

  • ridgerunner Jul 9, 2008

    If our NC lawmakers had not been raiding the highway fund there would be no need for toll roads, but they just cannot stand for money being held for what it was raised for so they waste it on other things. Just like the congress is doing with our social security taxes.

  • DawgDue Jul 9, 2008

    In regards to the rental car question...

    My flight was canceled at JFK a few weeks ago and no other airline had an available seat direct to Raleigh, so I rented a car from a Hertz in Manhattan and drove back here via the Jersey Turnpike and I95. The car had its own EZ-Pass on the windshield. When you reached a toll, you just opened it and went through the EZ-Pass lane.

    The fee is charged to the credit card that you rented the car with. Pretty simple process. Not sure if other rental agencies use the same system, but it sure helped having the EZ-Pass

  • 68_polara Jul 9, 2008

    If I received a bill for some toll road from out of state it would go straight in to the garbage.

  • Bendal1 Jul 9, 2008


    That's exactly how those without electronic passes will be billed; cameras will take photos of their license plates, and then a bill for the amount of the toll will be sent to them. The last time I read about the price, those without an account or an electronic 'tag' will be billed at the highest mileage rate, too, with someone having both an account and a tag getting the lowest rate.

  • wildervb Jul 9, 2008

    Again I see one huge hole in the proposed system. How are out of State people going to be charged? Are we proposing that the system scan their License Plate, get the owner's address and then send them a Bill? What about people driving rental cars? All States that use the EZ-Pass system still have toll collectors to collect for those who don't have the EZ-Pass, this would have to be the same.