Here's what's at stake with state budget maneuvers over funding for two new toll projects:
The state Department of Transportation plans to finance the Garden Parkway and the Mid-Currituck Bridge mostly with tolls collected from the drivers that will use them. The legislature already has authorized millions of dollars for planning and preliminary work on these two toll projects.
But DOT doesn’t expect to collect enough in tolls to pay the whole cost of operating and maintaining the road and the bridge, and repaying the money that will be borrowed to finance their construction.
To provide that missing money, the General Assembly has agreed in recent years to make annual “gap” payments for toll roads and bridges.
Each year’s budget now includes gap payments of $25 million for the Triangle Expressway in Research Triangle Park and western Wake County, which opened in January, and $24 million for the planned Monroe Connector Bypass in Union and Mecklenburg counties.
The House proposed in May to add $35 million for the Garden Parkway in Gaston and Mecklenburg counties, and $28 million for the Mid-Currituck Bridge in Currituck County, both starting in 2013. But Senate leaders wanted to cut that money to $15 million for the bridge and $17.5 million for the parkway.
Leaders of both chambers agreed Wednesday to cut all gap money for the Garden Parkway and Mid-Currituck Bridge from the 2013 budget.