Usage of NC's first toll road continues on upward path

Posted June 18, 2013

— North Carolina's first toll road cost more than $1 billion to build, yet there are times when no one is using it.

The 18.8-mile Triangle Expressway, which runs from Durham to Holly Springs, was completed in late December in an effort to improve access and reduce congestion between western Wake County and the Research Triangle Park.

Tolling on the final 8.75-mile stretch, which connects U.S. Highway 64 in Apex to the N.C. Highway 55 Bypass in Holly Springs, began in January.

John Talbot uses the road mid-morning a few times a month and says it's common for him to see only a few vehicles on it.

John Breedlove, director of Turnpike Operations at the North Carolina Department of Transportation, says that's because the final stretch is primarily a commuter road, making traffic on it light for much of the day.

Actually, Breedlove says, traffic has surpassed expectations, having doubled projected monthly numbers, and revenue has grown steadily each month since all three sections of the Triangle Expressway have been open.

In May alone, the DOT says, it brought in more than $1.5 million in revenue.

Breedlove says the road is paying for itself, and he expects it to become even busier over the next 10 to 15 years.

"As the economy picks up and traffic picks up, people will be using the Triangle Expressway as an alternate means of getting to work quicker and to get home quicker," Breedlove said.

At its busiest section, around the N.C. Highway 147 interchange near RTP, the Triangle Expressway sees about 25,000 vehicles daily.

In addition, the DOT says about 80,000 drivers now have transponders to take advantage of electronic tolling on the road.


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  • katzlover Jun 27, 2013

    they are pushing numbers up and with the raising the rates i just turned my eze pass in.. more taxes when it should be free

  • AWitt Jun 24, 2013

    The reported number of cars seems very high compared to actual usage because it is.

    The number reported does not reflect unique cars per day that use the road, it is actually the sum of all occurrences of a car passing an exit (a transaction). There are 11 exits. This means that a car can be counted as few as 1 and as many as 11 times per trip. For a 2 way commute, this could be up to 22 counts per day. In addition this is not calculated for weekends, but only for weekdays. The average number of unique cars per day is MUCH lower. Probably closer to 2000-4000. The Turnpike Authority claims that it does not keep track of unique cars per day. This way they do not have to make the actual number of cars that use the road public and they can imply to the media and the public that the usage is much higher by providing number of transactions.

    NCTA report here:

  • fingersmanless Jun 21, 2013

    I live in the Holly Springs area. Everyone, to a person, I've talked to refuses to use the toll road because our taxes paid for both the northern and southern portions, yet only the southern is toll. It as though we are continually being double taxed for the road.

  • early exit Roy Jun 21, 2013

    Don't believe Breedlove is accurate on # of cars on this hwy. I use it about once a week and I only see about 10-15 cars between 64 & 147. Even though I use it I think it would be best if we stay off of it unless the put in toll on the north side of raleigh.

  • WRAL_USER Jun 20, 2013

    It pulls in money from the ยข60 toll with a $6 "processing" fee...Crooks. NO ONE USES THIS ROAD!!!!!!!!!!! Fire all who were a party to this travesty.....

  • SaltyOldJarhead Jun 20, 2013

    This multi-lane zillion dollar highway carries less traffic than little two lane Lake Wheeler Road and yet it is exceeding expectations??!!

    If that was their expectation, then why did they waste our money building it?!!

  • pianoguy Jun 20, 2013

    I agree with other postings regarding the apparent squandering of the money collected on gas taxes, and don't like paying a toll either. However, as someone who works in RTP and travels from Apex to Hwy 147 for work, I suck it up and use the toll road rather than sit in traffic on Hwy 55 or Davis Drive.

  • ConservativeVoter Jun 19, 2013

    Just looked at WRAL's traffic cameras.

    I-40 is a parking lot from RTP to Cary with 4 lanes of cars stopped.

    NC-540 is empty. It looks like I-40 on Sunday morning about 6 AM.

  • ConservativeVoter Jun 19, 2013

    The I-185 toll road in Greenville, SC went bankrupt because expenses exceeded toll revenue. Now the taxpayers are footing the bill through higher taxes.

    I see the same thing happening with the toll roads NC-147 and NC-540.

  • ConservativeVoter Jun 19, 2013

    I refuse to use the toll road and pay a toll when NC has one of the highest gas taxes in the country.

    Obviously our gas taxes aren't being used for what they were intended for when we have to toll new construction.