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.