Before state transportation officials cut a red ribbon Thursday morning to open the six-lane Triangle Expressway through Research Triangle Park, they thanked local elected leaders who had endorsed the unpopular idea of collecting tolls from drivers to pay for the road. [An edited version of this story was published in the N&O today; I'm posting the full version here to include more comments from Apex Mayor Keith Weatherly, below (and my photo, left).]
“It wasn’t an easy thing,” said David Joyner, executive director of the N.C. Turnpike Authority. “The northern loop was free. This one, we were asking citizens to pay. You stepped up and you made the tough decision, and you decided a toll road is better than no road.”
When it’s completed, the 18.8-mile TriEx will combine two new highways and an existing section of the 540 Outer Loop into North Carolina’s first modern toll road. There appears to be wide agreement among residents and commuters that the fast-growing region needs the new roads, but time will tell whether drivers want them enough to pay tolls for each trip.
By lunchtime Thursday, a few drivers were using the first 3.7-mile section ... . [MORE]