NC turnpike legislation gains tentative approval

| 9/28/2001

The North Carolina House last week tentatively approved creating a new turnpike authority that would build pay-to-drive roads. If approved in a final House vote, the bill would move to the Senate.

The proposed turnpike authority would build and operate turnpike projects with the help of the state Transportation Department, private consultants and construction companies. The authority's annual plans would have to be approved by the Board of Transportation.

A legislative report estimates the state needs at least $550 million extra each year to pay for planned but unfunded road projects, improve road maintenance and expand public transportation, the Asheville Citizen-Times reported. State roads officials estimate it will take 25 years to build all of all the roads approved for construction.

The authority would stand alone to borrow money for road building. The debt would be paid with income from tolls paid by drivers. Plans call for tollbooths to be removed when the bonds are repaid and money is set aside to maintain the road.