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Toll road construction bids $62 million less than expected

Posted August 5, 2008 2:23 p.m. EDT
Updated August 20, 2008 6:45 p.m. EDT

— The North Carolina Turnpike Authority opened bids Tuesday for the construction of the future three-part Triangle Expressway, which will be the state's first modern toll road.

The bids total nearly $584 million – about $62 million less than what the Turnpike Authority expected.

S.T. Wooten Corporation of Wilson bid more than $137.4 million on the Triangle Parkway, a 3.4-mile toll highway between the N.C. 147, Durham Freeway, and N.C. Highway 540 in Morrisville. It could open by December 2010.

The Raleigh/Durham Road Builders, a joint venture of Archer Western Contractors and Granite Construction with the LPA Group as Lead Designer, bid more than $446.4 million for the Western Wake Freeway, a 12.6-mile stretch slated to open in 2011. It will be an extension of the new N.C. 540, from N.C. 55 near Research Triangle Park to N.C. 55 between Holly Springs and Apex.

The Turnpike Authority's Board of Directors is expected to hear bid presentations next week and vote on the bids Aug. 20.

The General Assembly, last month, approved gap funding of $25 million a year for the Triangle Expressway. Gap funding will be used to leverage bonds for the estimated $1 billion project.

Besides covering construction costs, those funds will be used for operations, land and other costs. Revenue generated by tolls will be used to pay off those bonds which will take about 40 years. Once the bonds are paid, state law requires the tolls to be removed.

The first of the three sections of the Triangle Expressway, the Northern Wake Expressway, opened in July 2007 and stretches 2.8 miles from N.C. 54 in Morrisville to N.C. 55 near Research Triangle Park.