Toll could pay for Triangle Expressway quicker

Posted July 14, 2009 11:12 p.m. EDT
Updated July 29, 2009 4:08 p.m. EDT

— With a $386 million federal loan approved this week and $624 million in newly sold bonds, construction to finish North Carolina's first toll road will likely begin as early as next month.

And with a better-than-expected bond market, motorists won't have to pay as long for the 18.8-mile, $1.1 billion Triangle Expressway, the North Carolina Turnpike Authority says.

Tolls received from the Triangle Expressway's three sections – the Northern Wake Expressway, the Triangle Parkway and Western Wake Freeway – will go to repay the bonds, which were sold Monday and Tuesday, in 30 years instead of the earlier-estimated 39 years.

The federal loan, announced Monday, will be paid back in 32 years at a 4.3 percent interest rate – lower than the anticipated 4.7 percent rate.

Construction could be complete as early as 2012 and will use a no-stop, cashless toll system. Tolls could cost up to 28 cents a mile.

For some motorists, like Jetame Shaw, who lives near the future toll road, the news of a shorter pay period is still too long.

She doesn't plan on paying to drive.

“I will probably come right around the back roads,” she said.

Other Triangle drivers, however, said they are willing to pay for extra for the convenience and time saved.

"If I can make the trek and I have to pay a couple extra dollars, I am going to do it,” said Rick Harland, who is from New York.

The Northern Wake Expressway – the first of the three sections of the Triangle Expressway to open – stretches 2.8 miles from N.C. Highway 54 in Morrisville to N.C. Highway 55 near the Research Triangle Park.

The 3.4-mile Triangle Parkway, which runs from N.C. Highway 147 in Durham to N.C. Highway 540 in Morrisville, could open as early as 2011. S. T. Wooten Corp., of Wilson, bid $135.4 million for the project.

The Raleigh/Durham Road Builders bid more than $446 million for the Western Wake Freeway, which runs 12.6-miles from N.C. 55 near Research Triangle Park to N.C. 55 between Holly Springs and Apex. It could open by 2012.