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Troubled economy could delay toll road construction

Posted October 15, 2008 5:02 p.m. EDT
Updated October 15, 2008 7:45 p.m. EDT

— Unstable financial markets could mean delaying construction on the two remaining sections of the state's first toll road, the Triangle Expressway.

David Joyner, executive director of the North Carolina Turnpike Authority, said Wednesday that the downturn in the economy could delay going to the bond market later this month to raise $600 million for the project.

At this point, no one knows how long a delay could be.

The General Assembly set aside $25 million a year in gap funding to cover the difference between the cost of the project and revenues generated by tolls in the coming years. The bonds are revenue anticapation bonds based on future tolls.

The initial contracts with the two contractors, S.T. Wooten Corp., of Wilson, and the Raleigh-Durham Road Builders, expire in November.

Both parties met with the Turnpike Authority Tuesday to consider extending the terms of the deal. Joyner said he is still confident the project will happen and that a completion date of 2011 is still possible.

The Northern Wake Expressway, the first section of the 18.8-mile Triangle Expressway, opened in July 2007 and stretches 2.8 miles from N.C. Highway 54 in Morrisville to N.C. Highway 55 near Research Triangle Park.

The second leg, the Triangle Parkway, which runs from N.C. 147 in Durham to N.C. 540 in Morrisville could open as early as 2010.

The Western Wake Freeway, from N.C. 55 near Research Triangle Park to N.C. 55 between Holly Springs and Apex, could open as the third section as early as 2011.