Governor OKs effort to speed up toll projects in North Carolina

| 8/26/2005

Gov. Mike Easley has signed a measure that could mean more toll roads across North Carolina .

The bill permits the state to triple the number of potential toll-road projects it can build to nine. It also calls for speeding up construction of two coastal bridges.

Supporters say increasing the number of potential projects removes a barrier to completing critical highway work while a tight budget at the North Carolina Department of Transportation is expected to reduce the number of highway contracts this year, The Associated Press reported.

Any toll project approved for construction would be paid with bonds repaid with collected tolls. Currently, there are no toll roads in the state.

The new law recommends tolls on the replacement of the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge , which spans Oregon Inlet on the Outer Banks; and building a private toll bridge connecting mainland Currituck County to the northern Outer Banks, The AP reported.

A provision in the law, previously HB253, allows the NCDOT to hire a company to design and build the bridge quicker than the agency typically would be able to do by contracting out sections of the project.

It also requires the ends of the replacement to the Bonner Bridge to be located in the same general area as the current span.

Additionally, the General Assembly has given final approval of the state’s budget. It includes a provision requiring the NCDOT to petition the federal government to allow tollbooths on Interstate 95.