Testing under way on N.C. toll road cameras

Posted May 17, 2010

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— The state has started testing traffic cameras on the N.C. Highway/Interstate 540 corridor that will eventually be used to help collect tolls on the state's first toll road.

The North Carolina Turnpike Authority said Monday that the cameras use infrared and visible light technology to record images, and, through a process known as optical character recognition, can automatically identify the characters on license plates.

Two cameras have been installed on N.C. Highway 540 East between N.C. Highway 54 and Interstate 40, and a third has been installed on Interstate 540 West between U.S. Highway 70 and Aviation Parkway.

A fourth camera will be installed at a third location within the next few weeks, the Turnpike Authority said.

The recorded images will help optimize the optical character recognition process and configure the cameras to accurately identify license plate numbers. They will not be used to bill motorists or for any other purposes, the Turnpike Authority said.

The temporary cameras are expected to remain in operation until the Triangle Expressway opens in late 2011. Once the road is open to traffic, permanent cameras on the toll road will capture license plate numbers for billing purposes.

When complete in 2012, the three-part, 18.8-mile Triangle Expressway will stretch from the N.C. 55 Bypass near Holly Springs to Interstate 40 at N.C. 147 in Wake and Durham counties.

The first section – N.C. 540 between N.C. Highway 54 in Morrisville and N.C. Highway 55 near Research Triangle Park – opened two years ago, and drivers have been using it toll-free since then.

The second section, a 3.4-mile stretch called the Triangle Parkway, will open next year and run from N.C. Highway 147 in Durham to N.C. 540 in Morrisville.

The 12.6-mile Western Wake Freeway, the third part of the Triangle Expressway, is expected to be complete in 2012 and will run from N.C. 55 in Cary to N.C. 55 in Holly Springs.

Drivers will also have the option of purchasing a small transponder that will be used to collect the tolls electronically.


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  • Bendal1 May 18, 2010

    All of you jumping down DOT's throats about this (as usual), think again. NCTA is a completely different entity; they've got their own engineers, managers, funding streams, etc. The only time DOT and NCTA interact is when a project starts as a nontolled route and NCTA ends up with it. Other than that, they do all their own work and make their own decisions.

  • skinnyCat May 18, 2010

    Cal Cunningham voted in favor of SB 1381 on May 21, 2008 that allows tolls on the previously paid for section of 540, as well as enforcement & penalties ($100) if you try and cheat the cameras.

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT May 18, 2010

    "If you cover your plate how are they going to know who to send the ticket to?"

    Wanna guess how bad of a situation you will be in when that patrolman pulls you over?

  • Capt Mercury May 18, 2010

    What's going to happen when people who never traveled these toll roads start getting bills in the mail from the NC Turnpike Authority? You know it is going to happen. No technology like this is ever perfect. This whole no-stop tolling idea could become a big mistake that costs the state big-time! Nothing new for the NC DOT though.

  • sonicbluezx3 May 18, 2010

    "If you cover your plate then that will cost you about 200.00 in courts fines. I believe I would just pay the 2 or 3 doollars instead of 200.00"

    If you cover your plate how are they going to know who to send the ticket to?

  • timbo 2.0 May 18, 2010

    Big Brother. We know where you are at.

  • cary1969 May 18, 2010

    while i don't agree with the tolls, the solution is simple...don't drive on it

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT May 18, 2010

    This toll section of the new expressway is a BIGGER deal than the current School Board fiasco. People who live and drive in the Western and SouthWestern sections of Wake County are being taxed to help pay for THEIR section of the expressway. People who live and drive around the other sections of the expressway are NOT being taxed. This is WRONG! EVERYONE should have to pay equally to get this expressway. So who decided only certain people should have to pay to use the expressway? The ENTIRE expressway should be a toll, or none at all.

  • ASU May 18, 2010

    If you cover your plate then that will cost you about 200.00 in courts fines. I believe I would just pay the 2 or 3 doollars instead of 200.00

  • elizabethfaison May 18, 2010

    Huge waste of money!