Feds loan North Carolina $386 million for tolled loop

| 7/13/2009

The U.S. DOT has announced a $386 million loan for North Carolina to complete an interstate loop in the Raleigh area. The North Carolina Turnpike Authority will pay back the loan with tolls.

Financing from the U.S. Department of Transportation, combined with $600 million in bonds to be issued by the Turnpike Authority will help the state complete 18 miles of the Triangle Expressway, composed of the North Wake Freeway, Triangle Parkway and Western Wake Freeway. All are contiguous and connect Interstate 40 to downtown Raleigh.

Federal authority for the loan falls under the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act – TIFIA – part of the 2005 transportation authorization known as SAFETEA-LU.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the expressway will ease congestion in Raleigh by serving Research Triangle Park and three universities including Duke.

North Carolina continues to study tolling as an option to fund transportation projects despite a proposal in state budget proceedings to merge the North Carolina Turnpike Authority into the state DOT.

For the merger to happen, the turnpike provision would have to survive a conference committee of the state House and Senate and be signed into law by Gov. Bev Perdue.

– By David Tanner, staff writer