Senate leaders agree, in their proposed budget released today, with House plans to provide turnpike "gap" money that would allow construction to start this fall on the planned 18-mile Triangle Expressway.
The Senate goes farther than the House in future years to provide gap funds for three other toll projects.
The N.C. Turnpike Authority asked for the appropriations to cover expected gaps between toll collections and the cost of building and operating the turnpikes.
The Senate budget agrees with the House proposal to give the Turnpike Authority $25 million a year starting in fiscal year 2008-09 as seed money for the Triangle Expressway toll project.
Both chambers agreed to add $24 million a year starting in FY 2009-2010 for the Monroe Connector / Bypass project in Union County. The Senate goes further by adding $15 million a year to help start the Mid-Currituck Bridge in Currituck County — for a combined $64 million a year.
The turnpike money would come available as the legislature phases out a yearly transfer of $172 million from the Highway Trust Fund to the General Fund, where it has been spent in past years for non-transportation needs.
The turnpike funding requires statutory changes separate from the biennial budget. Looking farther into the future, the Senate proposes another change in the turnpike law to add $35 million a year, starting in 2010-11, for the Garden Parkway in Gaston and Mecklenburg counties.