Mayors OK toll plan for I-540 in North Carolina county

| Friday, August 18, 2006

Mayors in one North Carolina county have approved more work on a proposed toll road after they were given assurances about how tolls would be collected and spent.

Wake County mayors gave the North Carolina Turnpike Authority approval Wednesday, Aug. 16, to continue to plan tolls 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.

The mayors also authorized the turnpike authority to continue to plan for tolls on the Triangle Parkway and the Western Wake Parkway, The Associated Press reported. The 16-mile project has a price tag of $800 million.

David Joyner, director of the turnpike authority, told the mayors at the meeting that the projects could be completed by 2011 if built as toll projects. Otherwise, he said the roads might not be finished before 2035 with traditional highway funding.

The county mayors’ vote comes nearly a week after Gov. Mike Easley signed a bill into law – SB1381 – authorizing the turnpike authority to toll certain roadways in the state.

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

Mayors sought assurances that local tolls wouldn’t be spent elsewhere in the state and that tolls would cease when the project was paid for. The state turnpike board met later in the day and agreed to spend toll revenues only in the highway corridors.

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