Bill Proposes State Support for Toll Road Construction

Posted April 6, 2007 6:16 p.m. EDT

— The state Turnpike Authority is seeking $18 million from state lawmakers to kick-start toll road construction in the Triangle.

The state could put the Western Wake Expressway out to bid by June and begin construction in August 2008 if the General Assembly provides the seed money to get the project going, officials said.

Senate Bill 1054 calls for the state to provide the Turnpike Authority with $18 million a year to help pay off bonds issued to finance construction of the toll road. The annual appropriation would continue for 39 years or until the toll road pays for itself.

The highway, which would extend Interstate 540 from Morrisville to Holly Springs, could become the first toll roads in North Carolina, and some lawmakers are reluctant to set the precedent.

"I'm not sure we've got the support of the General Assembly to get it done, but we really need to do this," said state Sen. Neal Hunt, R-Wake, a member of the Senate Transportation Committee. "Absent this, we could become stagnated in our economic growth because of traffic congestion."

Area drivers still aren't sold on the idea of toll roads, even if it would mean fewer traffic tie-ups.

"I don't like tolls one bit ... because it's money out of my pocket," one man said.

"It's kind of the price we pay to have the convenience of the road," another man said.