Traffic

Some spans to become toll bridges

Posted May 7, 2008 4:43 p.m. EDT
Updated May 7, 2008 9:16 p.m. EDT

— In the state’s efforts to replace 8,000 bridges in 20 years, some spans are on an early list to become toll bridges.

The state has 18,000 bridges. In order to replace 8,000 of them, the state Department of Transportation will need to replace 400 per year. Currently, it averages 120 per year.

The first public-private partnership in the state would put a toll bridge over the Currituck Sound on the outer banks near Corolla, said David Joyner, the executive director for the North Carolina Turnpike Authority.

The toll is expected to be between $12 and $20 each way. Construction is scheduled to begin next year.

Joyner said another toll bridge is planned over the Cape Fear River.

“This bridge is scheduled to be built somewhere south of the port in Wilmington,” Joyner said.

Joyner said toll bridges that cost millions of dollars to build use minimal tax dollars, if any.

“It’s a tremendous expense that we take off the table from DOT,” Joyner said.

State Sen. David Hoyle, D-Gaston, sponsored the legislation to establish the first toll authority in North Carolina. He supports toll projects, but not if they replace an existing road or bridge.

Hoyle is a member of a statewide transportation committee, which is discussing a proposal to replace the Yadkin River Bridge, just east of Salisbury on Interstate 85, with a toll bridge.

“As a person who has been involved with this from the beginning, I’d say the chances of a bridge being built over the Yadkin River with a toll is pretty slim to none,” Hoyle said.

Joyner said something has to be done to replace the bridge.

“I think it’s a question of whether the political will is there to use tolls to do it and we’ll see,” Joyner said, acknowledging that money isn’t there for it now.

The 21st Century Transportation Committee is expected to take action on the Yadkin River Bridge proposal Tuesday morning.  If approved, the toll would cost about $2 each way.

Tolls and bonds are also the talk for a major project that could make it faster to get to the southern beaches.

Commissioners in Brunswick and New Hanover Counties said a bond may be the best bet to build a major leg of the Wilmington bypass, which would connect 421 with Highway 17 east of Wilmington.