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Overhead cameras on N.C. 540 in western Wake County soon will be snapping pictures of license plates to test technology that will be used, starting in December, to identify cars and collect revenues on North Carolina’s first modern toll road.
The cameras are being installed between N.C. 54 and N.C. 55 on a section of the 540 Outer Loop that will become part of the Triangle Expressway.
Tolls will be collected electronically from drivers using TriEx, either from photos of their license plates or from dashboard transponders – which will qualify drivers for lower toll rates. The N.C. Quick Pass transponders will go on sale this fall.
The N.C. Turnpike Authority will start testing the cameras in the next two weeks to see how well the technology identifies the car owners.
“This is the first step in our testing,” said Andy Lelewski, toll road operations director for the turnpike agency. “We’re not looking anybody up. We’re just capturing images to make sure our equipment works well.”
At night, drivers will notice a blink of light overhead as the cameras take pictures.
“To get a good color image, we have to have some white light out there,” Lelewski said. “There’s a quick flash of light.”
The northern leg of TriEx, scheduled to open for business in December, will be a two-piece, T-shaped road.
The 3.4-mile Triangle Parkway, now under construction, will extend the Durham Freeway from Interstate 40 through Research Triangle Park to the 540 Outer Loop. There it will join an existing 2.8-mile section of 540 between N.C. 54 and N.C. 55.
The southern section of TriEx, running 12.6 miles south from RTP to Holly Springs, is scheduled to open in December 2012.