The North Carolina House has given final approval to a bill
tripling the number of potential toll-road projects in North Carolina. It also
calls for speeding up construction of two coastal bridges.
The bill, which previously passed the Senate, now moves to
Gov. Mike Easley’s desk for his signature.
One of the coastal bridges, the Bonner Bridge, spans Oregon
Inlet on the Outer Banks. It is need of replacement, The Associated Press reported.
A provision in the bill – HB253 – would allow the North
Carolina Department of Transportation to hire a company to design and build the
bridge quicker than the Department of Transportation typically would be able to
do by contracting out sections of the project.
Sponsored by Rep. James Crawford Jr., D-Oxford, the measure
also would require the ends of the $150 million replacement bridge to be
located in the same general area as the current span.
The state’s DOT would be authorized to license the
construction of a private toll bridge “of more than two miles in length going
from the mainland to a peninsula bordering” the Virginia line, Crawford wrote.
The toll bridge would need to be built by 2009.
In addition, Crawford’s effort would expand the number of
toll-road projects that could be studied and built in North Carolina from three
Any toll project approved for construction would be paid
with bonds repaid with collected tolls, The AP reported. Currently, there
are no toll roads in the state.