The North Carolina House has approved funding for a toll road in western Wake County. It would be the state’s first toll route.
The budget provision would allot the North Carolina Turnpike Authority $25 million annually to help pay off the cost of construction for the southern portion of a proposed extension of Interstate 540, dubbed the Triangle Expressway. The appropriation would continue for 39 years to help build the 18.8-mile stretch of roadway.
Money for the roadwork would come via a phaseout of the $172.5 million that annually is rerouted from the state’s Highway Trust Fund to the General Fund. It would help make up the difference between the amount of revenues the state expects to generate from tolls and the total cost – about $1 billion – to build and maintain the Expressway.
The roadway would extend I-540 from Morrisville to Holly Springs. The route is slated to be toll-free north of state Route 55.
Supporters say the toll route is needed to maintain economic growth and reduce traffic congestion. Critics of the plan say it’s unfair that people using the expressway in western Wake County might have to pay tolls to complete the roadway because the northern half was built with tax dollars.
It now is up to the Senate to approve the expenditure included in the budget bill – HB2436.
To view other legislative activities of interest for North Carolina in 2008, click here.
– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor