New law allows toll roads in North Carolina

| 8/15/2006

Gov. Mike Easley signed a bill into law Aug. 10 that authorizes the North Carolina Turnpike Authority to toll certain roadways in the state.

Until now, the authority’s power has been restricted to planning new highways and bridges. Previously, the state prohibited adding tolls to roads already built.

The bill was sent to the governor’s desk after a legislative conference committee made up of select members from the state’s House and Senate reached agreement on provisions in the bill – SB1381 – in the waning hours of the regular session that ended July 28.

The new law allows up to six potential toll roads to be built. For additional projects, direct legislative approval is required prior to construction, The Associated Press reported.

The authority now has the green light to place toll booths on a segment of Interstate 540 under construction near Raleigh. The three-mile segment – which is slated to open in 2007 – stretches from Interstate 40 southwest to state Route 55.

All 12 mayors in Wake County will have to agree to place tolls along the stretch of roadway.

If given the final go-ahead, toll revenues will be used to help pay for the construction of the outer beltway in Wake and Durham counties or to impose tolls on existing free roads if they connect to an existing or planned toll road, The Herald-Sun reported.

Proposed toll projects that could be built and operated by the turnpike authority are:

  • Cape Fear Skyway, a proposed bridge and road connecting Wilmington to Brunswick County;
  • Monroe Connector between the U.S. 74 bypass in Union County and Interstate 485;
  • Gaston East-West Connector, which would connect Interstate 85 west of Gastonia and I-485 in Mecklenburg County;
  • Triangle Parkway, which would go through Research Parkway; and
  • A proposed bridge connecting mainland Currituck County to the northern Outer Banks.