Motorists driving through Charlotte, N.C., can choose a quicker route in lieu of U.S. 74, but they will have to pay up. The North Carolina Turnpike Authority opened the all-electronic Monroe Expressway on Tuesday, Nov. 27.
Motorists can expect to pay for using an 18-mile bypass that stretches from U.S. 74 near Interstate 485 in Mecklenburg County to U.S. 74 between the towns of Wingate and Marshville in Union County. Drivers traveling from Marshville to Matthews are expected to save approximately 20 minutes.
Toll rates for vehicles with four axles or more can expect to pay $10.16 for the full length of the expressway with a NC Quick Pass transponder. Without a transponder, the rate will increase to $15.68.
“This is an important step in improving mobility in a rapidly growing region and one of the many solutions being brought to bear to better connect North Carolinians,” Jim Trogdon, state transportation secretary and chairman of the North Carolina Turnpike Authority Board, said in a statement. “Providing mobility options for communities is crucial to protect the quality of life and the economic growth our state enjoys.”
The turnpike authority will collect tolls on the Monroe Expressway with NC Quick Pass and bills by mail using camera technology. Motorists using NC Quick Pass transponders can save up to 35 percent off tolls in the state.
To sign up for NC Quick Pass, visit NCQuickPass.com or call 877-7MY-PASS (877-769-7277).
Toll collections will go toward operating, maintaining and paying off the toll road. Expected time to pay off all bonds is by mid-2050. Once the bonds are paid off, toll collecting on the Monroe Expressway will come to an end.
Meanwhile, the state is still working on the Interstate 77 Express Lanes project, which will affect 26 miles of I-77 from the Brookshire Freeway (Exit 11) in Mecklenburg County to N.C. 150 (Exit 36) in Iredell County. A series of hurdles has delayed the project, but lanes are expected to open in late 2018.
The N.C. Turnpike Authority currently has five other toll projects under development:
- Interstate 485 Express Lanes – one express lane in each direction along I-485 for 17 miles between I-77 and U.S. 74.
- 540 loop – extends the Triangle Expressway 28 miles – currently ending at N.C. 55 in Apex – to U.S. 64/264 Bypass in Knightdale.
- Mid-Currituck Bridge – 7-mile toll project includes a two-lane bridge that spans the Currituck Sound and connects the Currituck County mainland to the Outer Banks.
- U.S. 74 Express Lanes from Conference Drive to I-485 – 6.3-mile project would widen and add express lanes to Independence Boulevard (U.S. 74) from Conference Drive to I-485 in Charlotte.
- U.S. 74 Express Lanes from I-277 to Wallace Lane – 5.8-mile conversion of bus lanes in the median of Independence Boulevard (U.S. 74) in Charlotte from I-277 to Wallace Lane to express lanes.
Additionally, the turnpike authority is considering two more projects. One potential project will widen I-77 9.3 miles to 10 lanes by building express lanes from I-485 to I-277 in Charlotte. Another project will create a 31-mile express lane in the median of Interstate 40 from Exit 301 in Raleigh to U.S. 15/501 in Durham County.
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