Toll road to cost 15 to 24 cents a mile to drive

Posted March 3, 2011
Updated March 6, 2011

— State transportation officials on Thursday told drivers how much they will have to pay to drive on North Carolina's first toll road when it opens later this year.

When it's complete, the Triangle Expressway will run 18.8 miles from Durham to Holly Springs, and the North Carolina Turnpike Authority has designed it so that all tolls will be handled electronically so drivers never have to stop at a booth to fish for change.

There will be two ways to pay for using the highway:

  • The N.C. Quick Pass, which involves sticking a transponder on a vehicle's windshield and having the system deduct money from a prepaid account, will cost 15 to 16 cents a mile.
  • For vehicles without a transponder, roadside cameras will snap pictures of their license plates as they pass, and the Turnpike Authority will send them a bill in the mail at a rate of 23 to 24 cents a mile. People who ignore the bill will have a hold placed on their annual vehicle registration.

"The fact of the matter is this is the only way we can pay for these tremendously expensive roads," said David Joyner, executive director of the Turnpike Authority.

The Turnpike Authority expects rates to increase about 5 percent a year through 2015. Money collected from the tolls will pay off about 70 percent of the construction costs on the road.

"We owe the bank $1 billion, and we've got to repay it," Joyner said.

540 tolls not 'your grandfather's toll road' Toll road to cost 15 to 24 cents a mile to drive

Some drivers consider the tolls a waste of money.

"I pretty much know how to get around and can probably go places without using a toll road, and I'd probably prefer that," driver Andrew Leliever said.

When they hear that the road could save them up to 20 minutes on a trip through western Wake County, others said they would use the toll road.

"I'd definitely consider it, definitely consider it because being stuck in that traffic when it's really bad is brutal," driver Brinson Taylor said.

"Time is money, and money is time. I think that right there sums it up," driver Lamont Middleton said.

Toll collection will begin when the 3.4-mile stretch called the Triangle Parkway opens later this year between N.C. Highway 147 in Durham and N.C. Highway 540 in Morrisville. At that time, the existing portion of N.C. 540 between N.C. Highway 54 and N.C. 55 will also be converted to a toll road.

The 12.6-mile Western Wake Freeway should open in 2012 between N.C. Highway 55 in Cary and N.C. 55 in Holly Springs. 

Transponders will go on sale this fall, before the highway opens. Officials say the units also will work on the E-Z Pass system in the Northeast and on toll roads in Florida.


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  • Enuffalready Mar 4, 2011

    You can thank Sen Clark Jenkins of Tarboro (D) who sponsored the bill and Sen David Price (D) from Chapel Hill who recently endorsed the latest expansion. TWO GOOD-OL-BOYS from right here.

    And where were you anti-yankee folks when this was going on? Did you try to contact your legislative representatives, write letters to the press, comment on blogs.. My guess is NO. But this Yankee did. This road is unfair, poorly executed, and will become a financial albatross within 5 years.

  • pappybigtuna1 Mar 4, 2011

    good luck with that

  • Ncsandytoes Mar 4, 2011

    At less give this road a chance before you condemn it. I have traveled to other states that have toll roads, Florida, Ohio, Pa and the Chicago Skyway, it has saved time and trouble when traffic backs up. I will be using the toll road whenever I need too. No I am not from " Yankee land" just a forward thinking North Carolinian.

  • cariannestanley Mar 4, 2011

    I dont know why roads here SO expensive. They are made out of krappy materials - we haven't figured out what Virginia knows - how to maintain roads. We have the worse roads around and I am durned sure not going to pay to travel over humps and bumps and have my tired and axles flattened!

  • cariannestanley Mar 4, 2011

    What a joke. That's kinda expensive to ride a few miles on a road. What a confused nightmare this is gonna be.

  • Stringbean Mar 4, 2011

    Lol... this whole thing is one big joke...... everyone that i know says they wont use it.... soon they will be charging 100.00 a mile. WHAT WERE THEY THINKING ???? This is just one more thing that is out of control here in NC.

  • baracus Mar 4, 2011

    "Its this attitude that makes us detest some of you "yankees" who skrewed up your own states, and come down here to try skrewing up ours. those who are closed minded, ignorant of so much, and arrogant to boot. meBNme"

    I didn't come down here to run away from my home state or try to change anything down here. Blaming Yankees for skrewing up the state is pathetic. The same lame Dems have been in power for what? 80 years? It didn't just happen when the Yankees started really moving in in the 80s/90s. All the major power brokers in state government are uniformly native Southerners.

  • logicalthinking Mar 4, 2011

    Don't be surprised you if you see a lot of bikers WHEELIE through it.

    That'd be perfect when no cars driving on it.

  • OpenM1nd Mar 4, 2011

    Route 55 has no toll...

  • Bring on the 4 Dollar Gas Mar 4, 2011