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Traffic counts are rising every month on the Triangle Expressway, NCDOT says.
How come? There were plenty of pessimistic predictions about the state's first modern toll road, and angry vows from Wake County drivers who swore they would never pay the tolls. (5/7/13 update: See today's Road Worrier.)
There's a few-mile stretch of the 540 Outer Loop, between NC 54 and NC 55 near Research Triangle Park, that was toll-free for a few years before toll collections started last August. Sure enough, the monthly traffic counts fell as soon as the toll-free status went away.
But the numbers rebounded, suggesting that Triangle commuters decided they'd rather pay for the privilege than take another road to work in the morning and home in the afternoon. You can find these and other TriEx stats in a pair of PDF files that are too large (sorry!) to attach to this blog post: The 2012 report (7.1MB) and the 2013 First Quarter Report (11.9MB).
TriEx is still in a "ramp-up" period of slow growth that was predicted by the traffic experts before it was built. It'll take a few years to see how busy it really can get, and it will always be mostly a weekday rush-hour thing. But the numbers show it is getting busier now.
I'll be reporting on this Monday, and I would like to speak with TriEx drivers -- and TriEx avoiders. Tell me why you use TriEx or what else you use instead -- is NC 55 looking better these days? Please email me with your name, your thoughts, and your workday phone number so I can contact you Monday.