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Toll Road Could Be In Triangle's Future Within Year

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RALEIGH, N.C. — State transportation leaders say they expect a toll road to be under construction in the Triangle within a year.

Future sections of Interstate 540 and the Triangle Parkway through Research Triangle Park are being considered as toll roads. Building the roads now and paying for them later with tolls could speed up road construction and improvement.

But would that end complaints from many motorists along North Carolina highways that the state Department of Transportation takes too long to improve roadways?

"Sitting in traffic to pay a toll, to me, is no different than sitting in congestion waiting to get an open road," said Perry Safran, of the North Carolina Turnpike Authority, which makes the final decision on toll roads in the state. "We can't trade one for the other."

Members of the Regional Transportation Alliance, however, heard from toll-road designers Tuesday on possible options for the area. Many said they liked an option called "EZ Pass," in which a transponder checks in with the tollbooth, and drivers keep moving.

At the request of the Wake County Mayors' Association, the North Carolina Turnpike Authority is studying building the future section of I-540 as a toll road.

"Congestion is the name of the game with toll roads," Safran said. "If you are not able to put people sooner to their home or sooner to their business, and stop pollution by having them not stalled in traffic, then you cannot win the battle."


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