Toll passes go on sale; tolls begin in January
North Carolina's first toll road is almost ready for drivers, and the state has begun selling electronic passes for people who plan to drive the expressway.Posted — Updated
Department of Transportation Secretary Gene Conti and North Carolina Turnpike Authority Director David Joyner were first in line to buy their transponders.
When Phase I of the toll road – a stretch of 3.4 miles between Interstate 40 at N.C. Highway 147 in Durham County south to Interstate 540 in Wake County – opens in December, it and the existing portion of N.C. Highway 540 between N.C. Highways 54 and 55 will be the Tar Heel state's first toll road.
Drivers will have one month's grace, and tolls will begin in January 2012.
By the end of next year, the entire Western Wake Freeway should be open from N.C. 55 in Cary to N.C. 55 in Holly Springs. A section from I-540 to N.C. 55 Apex is expected to open in August.
"This road wouldn't be built for 30 years if we had to rely n the gas tax to pay for it," Joyner said.
Conti foreshadowed more toll roads to come. "We may have to use it much more then we have in the past because our gas tax revenue isn't keeping up with the needs," he said.
Drivers can purchase a $5 sticker for their car that will be linked to all North Carolina toll roads or a $20 device that the DOT expects will ultimately work with the E-Z Pass system in the Northeast and on toll roads in Florida. That agreement has not been finalized, but is expected to be in place by the time the freeway is complete.
"Tolling technology is developing very rapidly across the country. We believe North Carolina is in a leadership position particularly in terms of technology and convenience of this," Conti said.
Either way, tolls are pre-paid. Vehicles with transponders will be debited approximately 15 cents per mile as they pass underneath toll readers. A transponder is linked to a credit card, and drivers receive a monthly statement. Those who prefer to pay in cash can do so only in person at the Morrisville office.
Drivers who don't buy a transponder will pay a bit more. Cameras will photograph their license plates, and they will get a bill in the mail.
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