Plan would toll existing part of I-540

Posted August 21, 2009 6:40 p.m. EDT
Updated August 21, 2009 7:13 p.m. EDT

— A long-range plan to keep up with growth and expected traffic numbers could mean tolling the existing eastern and northern portions of Interstate 540.

"That is the option that could fund the increased extra lanes on 540 on the northern side," said Joe Bryan, chairman of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, the committee comprised of Wake County leaders that develops the region's long-range transportation plan.

Construction is already under way on the state's first toll road, the Triangle Expressway, an 18.8-mile stretch of 540, from the intersection of the Durham Freeway and Interstate 40 to N.C. Highway 55 in Holly Springs.

Apex Mayor Keith Weatherly believes it's unfair that the tax-paid northern loop is not tolled while the portion that runs near his town will mean motorists paying to travel the road for at least the next 30 years.

"The sooner the better, absolutely," he said of tolling the northern loop. "There is some frustration right now."

Local leaders say that with growing transportation needs in the Triangle, they must begin looking at alternative sources for road funding. The traditional source, the gas tax, is no longer the answer because cars are getting much better mileage per gallon than they used to.