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N.C. 540 project won't get federal stimulus funding

Posted February 26, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

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— As federal stimulus money exits Washington and merges into North Carolina, the wheels will begin to roll on 70 different road projects statewide.

Of the $6.1 billion the state will receive, $838 million is dedicated to highways, bridges, ferry transit and rail projects – but the 18.8-mile Triangle Expressway, an extension of Interstate 540 in Wake County, , is not one of them.

No stimulus funding for 540 project No stimulus funding for 540 project

"That's a billion-dollar project," state Department of Transportation Secretary Gene Conti said. "We're getting $838 million. Even if we took all that money to the project, it still wouldn't work."

State law would not the state Department of Transportation to put it all toward one project anyway.

Federal funds must be distributed across the state. Also, stimulus money comes with strict rules.

"We had 120 days in which to obligate the money, and we had to have projects ready to go," Conti said.

David Joyner, executive director of the North Carolina Turnpike Authority, says the 540 project is ready to move forward, but the authority is waiting to sell bonds that would be repaid with toll revenues.

The slumping economy has delayed selling the bonds, but Joyner said he hopes that will happen within the next few weeks. If so, crews could begin construction within the next 60 to 90 days.

"The only thing we need is a suitable level of finance from bond markets, which are upside down right now," Joyner said.

While the Triangle Expressway is on hold, a stretch of I-540 from Interstate 40 to U.S. Highway 70, however, will be repaved using $4 million from the stimulus package. DOT officials say it is considered to be necessary maintenance and that it fits the stimulus money rules.

Some toll road opponents had hoped the federal stimulus money could replace the need for toll revenue. Turnpike officials say that's not in the plans.

31 Comments

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  • haggis basher Feb 27, 2009

    and construction costs have risen in the past 4 years.
    And plummeted in the last six months. Its never going to be cheaper than it will be this year.....cheap labor, cheap equipment, cheap land and cheap materials. Get digging....now!

  • killerkestrel Feb 27, 2009

    $53 million a mile is right. Arkansas might be leaving out right of way, interchanges, and construction costs have risen in the past 4 years.

    It cost around $30 million a mile to do 540 in the north about 9 years ago. That was when asphalt binder was less than $200 a ton. In 2008 it peaked at almost $800 a ton. It is currently over $400 a ton, even though paving season is a month away from starting!

  • wayne1961 Feb 27, 2009

    Tax Man -

    Let me be up front to say that I don't like the yearly transfer to the trust fund either. When posters call the LEGAL transfer "stealing" you are misleading the readers of this forum. If people in the legislature were "stealing" $$ they should be arrested. The legislature when they set up the highway trust fund wrote in that transfer. It is perfectly legal.

    I think a more appropriate term is "taking", and that would be more appropriate for your argument, and doesn't imply illegal activity. If you have specific evidence that someone in the legislature is doing something illegal, please contact the authorities.

    Again, Do I like the highway trust fund transfer? No. But it is legal until it is phased out. And nothing has been stolen.

  • The Oracle Feb 27, 2009

    $53 million per mile for the new540 does seem much too high. I found this link from 2005, and none the the figures is anywhere near that:
    http://www.arkansashighways.com/Roadway/Costs%20per%20Mile.pdf?Record_Number=8

  • haggis basher Feb 27, 2009

    "This story has to do with FINISHING 540, not repaving what has been completed to this point."
    um yes. read it again yourself. They plan to repave from I40 to 70

  • haggis basher Feb 27, 2009

    "a stretch of I-540 from Interstate 40 to U.S. Highway 70, however, will be repaved using $4 million from the stimulus package."
    Already? thats less than 10 years old.........
    Seems to me that perhaps if our leaders bought some land in the path of I540 it would get completed real fast........

  • cwmllc1952 Feb 27, 2009

    As with other things when the northeners moved down they want the same things in the south they moved away from.TOLL ROADS,ETC.We would be financially better off if they would go back.Our way of life was not broken.MY MISTAKE ! WHEN THEY RETIRE THEY CAN'T AFFORD TO LIVE THERE.Wonder where we will go?

  • bettyboopr2 Feb 27, 2009

    GOOD

  • rand321 Feb 26, 2009

    why did you have to wait for bonds to make it toll road. could you not build it as a FREEWAY???

  • simracer68 Feb 26, 2009

    "Repaving 540 already? That road is not even ten years old. If it was concrete instead of asphalt, it wouldn't need a resurfacing for 40 years."

    Um no. For your crude screen name, you seem a little afflicted yourself. This story has to do with FINISHING 540, not repaving what has been completed to this point.

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