State Budget, So Far, Is Without Toll Road Funding

Plans are in place for two toll roads in the Triangle, but funding in the state's budget for next fiscal year is not.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Plans are in place for two toll roads in the Triangle, but funding is not.

That could mean trouble for transportation planners, who say pay roads are the only option as road construction costs increase and highway funding decreases.

Toll backers wanted $18 million to fund the gap between projected toll revenues and the cost of building the Western Wake Expressway – the leg of Interstate 540 that will stretch south from Interstate 40 to N.C. Highway 55 in Holly Springs – and the Research Triangle Parkway , a road to connect I-540 with the Durham Freeway.

Despite the push toward pay-to-drive, there is no toll funding in either the state House's or Senate's budget proposal.

"The gap funding they're looking for currently is in limbo," said Rep. Nelson Cole, D-Rockingham. "I don't know how we go about this. We might have to go back into session and approve this just for the turnpike."

David Joyner, with the North Carolina Turnpike Authority, which supports toll roads, said he is not surprised.

"We knew that it probably wouldn't be in the budget in the House or the Senate, because that's an appropriations bill, and the money is just not there. We need new money."

The Turnpike Authority hopes a bill to pay for Triangle Expressway comes out of the Senate before the end of this session.

"We're not in crisis mode at this point, but it's close," Joyner said.

Something would have to happen in the next few weeks to get toll road money lined up.

If it gets the $18 million from the state, the Turnpike Authority said it could put the Triangle Expressway project out to bid in late June.