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Will you pay a toll to drive the Triangle Expressway?

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After the first section of the Triangle Expressway opens in December, Research Triangle Park workers and other commuters will have a new decision to make at rush hour:

(A) Stick with the old route to work, which can get a little crowded at times, or
(B) pay a toll for what is supposed to be a quicker drive.

Which choice will you make?  I’d like to hear from you today for a story I’m writing.  Please e-mail me or call me at 919-829-4527, and don’t forget your contact info.  [Belated 3/17/11 update: Thanks for the feedback! See 3/5/11 story with many more comments.]

The N.C. Turnpike Authority is about to approve initial toll rates that will average 15 cents a mile for commuters who use a windshield transponder called N.C. QuickPass, and 23 cents for everybody else in a 2-axle vehicle.  (More axles mean higher tolls.)  Video cameras will capture license plate numbers, and non-transponder users will receive monthly bills in the mail.

For the northern section of TriEx to open by the end of December, that works out to a toll of 30 to 82 cents per trip for transponder users, or 45 cents to $1.25 for other drivers -- depending on where you get on and off.  This northern stretch is shaped like an upside-down capital T:

*The 3.4-mile Triangle Parkway, which extends the N.C. 147 Durham Freeway south through RTP to N.C. 540, will be marked with purple signs as Toll 147.
* The 2.8-mile section of the existing N.C. 540 between N.C. 54 and N.C. 55 will be marked in purple as Toll 540.

The remaining 12.6 miles from N.C. 55 at RTP to N.C. 55 at Holly Springs, also to be marked as Toll 540, is set to open at the end of 2012.


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Not only NO, but **** NO!

The folks in sourthern and western Wake paid for the northern portion to be the folks that live in the Northern portion aren't paying for the building of the southern section. Eff that!

I don't normally have to drive that way so I won't use it at all. The biggest change I'll have to make is no more shopping at the Walmart/Sam's at 54 and 540 which will require a toll to get there. Without a cash option, I won't drive on the toll at all. Don't really need a government transponder in my car or a monthly bill detailing where my car has been. I'll just drive on the free roads/


The tolls where supposed to only go on the new section to be built. Not put on existing roads in the dead of night.

Good luck getting the license plate on photos with those camera screen guides and a little mud.

What about the dump trucks that do not have license plates that do the most damage?

No one will use it. 

Re: dump trucks

Good question.

NC Democrat Road Corruption is why Tri-Ex /540 is a Toll Road

So , to ask the real question why was Tri-Ex  [the former I 540] "named" as a Toll road and not using Hwy funds that taxpayers paid for. The reason is that the NC Democrat machine stole road funds and used them for general state expenses as well as using them for unneeded roads in Political Bosses counties.

Remember  the Hwy that almost got built to Fmr. Gov. Jim Hunt's farm?

So instead of building adequate roads where they are needed in populous counties , the money gets spent how the political bosses say, and the roads are built poorly to boot.


Remember these facts as more Toll roads are built and you are forced to drive on them.

Vote to Change this



tolls never go away

In New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and probably a lot of other places, they build these highways, pay for it with bonds, and enact tolls to repay those bonds.

Then 10 or 15 years later when the bonds are about to be repaid, government officials inevitably find a way to borrow more money for an unrelated project to keep the tolls in place.  Once government officials have a revenue stream and find ways to spend it, it's very hard to cut off that revenue stream.

This is just one of many problems with tolls.  You're better off just adding a penny to the gas tax to pay for a major highway.  No overhead in doing that since the gas taxation system is already in place.

Make major improvements? 

Make major improvements?  That road is brand new.  What major improvements could be needed, or are they just spending money so they can toll the road?

I believe they are going to

I believe they are going to widen some sections to 4 lanes in each direction. 

I would only pay it...

If I lived in Clayton and worked in RTP.  That commute down 40 has to be terrible.

I'd be willing to pay the

I'd be willing to pay the tolls, but only if they make the system compatible with other major open road tolling systems, like EZ Pass, I-Pass, etc.  I'm not going to buy another transponder just for 10 or so minutes of time savings.

The toll road will

The toll road will accept both SunPass and EZ-Pass transponders.  Also, the NC Quick Pass works on both networks, so you only have to use one transponder when travelling north or south.


Is there a fee for the NC Quick Pass?  I recently read on the consumerist that prices for EZPass vary state-by-state, so you're better off getting the EZ Pass from Massachusetts than from Maryland, for example.

That's good news.  I hadn't

That's good news.  I hadn't seen that yet. 

Great! There's one born every minute.

I tell ya what, why don't I just give you my P.O. box number and you can mail me a check every so often since you're eager to give your money away.

Why don't you go back to

Why don't you go back to working the drive-thru.  Cars are wrapped around your McD's.

whoops, wrong

See my comment below.  I did respect your comment, but now that you're on the attack because people feel different than you, I think you are an azz.  Keep it civil and I'll believe you were born and raised around here.

May I ask where you were

May I ask where you were raised, and how long you've been here?

From Wilmington, grew up

From Wilmington, grew up between there and Rocky Mount.  Been in Raleigh for 17 years.  I've also traveled outside of this State (OMG!, on a real aeroplane!) and lived in Chicago, DC, and Hong Kong.  Thanks for coming out. 

I still have my IPass, and since I travel 90% of the time, I don't feel like buying another transponder. 

OK, then, I respect your

OK, then, I respect your opinion.  Sorry for the transplants, but I have no respect for their opinions.  Moving down here to make things like they are "up yonder" make me upset.

toll for Expressway

I guess if you live in the right neighborhood no tolls for you since the highway system was already put in place for you but if you are a poor schmuck living in the wrong part of town, you will have to pay a toll. I do not see the fairness in that.

I see an anology to the folks living on the beach although it is the reverse. If you live on the beach and your house is washing away, NC residents should pay to buy you sand. If you live in the wrong part of the state, you should pay for others to enjoy the beach.

Nope- Fail

I'll avoid the toll roads.  Give them an inch and they'll take you a mile.  Once this toll is rolled out, do you think it's going to stop at just that section of road?  What's to stop tolls on any other streets with the new technology as well?  What about tiered fees based on time of day?  Be careful what you wish for.

We pay enough in gasoline and other taxes here.  Boycot the toll roads.


Hopefully, I'll be able to retire in a few years with a decent amount of money to live on.  I can't wait to take my retirement dollars the heck out of NC.  If our government had not spent the last 30 years wasting our money, we wouldn't have to have toll roads to drive on.  I was born and raised here, loved the state, but now I'd about as soon live in New Jersey.  I mean, what's the real difference?

My answer to your question?  Hayull no, I'll not pay to drive on a road that was built with my tax money.  Only the rich will be driving on that road.

If driving on the road saved

If driving on the road saved you the equivalent money in gas, and got you to your destination quicker, wouldn't it make since to use it?

540 will be a godsend for those of us who live in Holly Springs and Fuquay, and commute to RTP.  NC 55 is a parking lot for two hours every morning, and it can take nearly an hour to get where you are going. 

I wonder what percentage of people griping about the toll road actually live in an area that would benefit from it.

A godsend at 15 cents per mile?

So you're going to travel 30 miles a day, roundtrip, on a road that charges 15 cents per mile?  An additional $4.50 per day? And you won't be saving gas. You will be taking a less direct route at higher speeds, so you'll spend more in gas, not less. 

Let's say your car gets 30mpg, and that your current commute is 30 miles, so you currently pay about $3.50 each way in gas. Taking the toll road is like having a gas price of over $5.70. I don't see how that's worth it, even if it reduces your commute by 10-15 minutes.

you're going up north, where

you're going up north, where there are MORE tolls. good job.


Did I say I was moving north? 

Which State?

They all waste money.  At least NC has good weather and a great quality of life.  The only other state I would consider living in would be Hawaii, for obvious reasons.  NC is still one of the best states to live in.  You clearly havent spent much time outside of it. 

Used to...

NC isn't the state I was raised in anymore.  My neighbors would rather eats "brats" than Carolina Packers.  They think barbecue is made from beef.  Homeowners associations are the new municipal government.  And toll roads are considered normal.

I think I'll take my chances somewhere else.  Other places have pretty weather, too, and I don't see anything else to recommend NC as a place to live anymore.

Why only Southwest Wake pay toll?

Siciloff, ask the question, why do the folks in Northern Wake get a pass on tolls, while the Southern Wake folks have to pay a toll?

Why is 540 not toll all the way around?


The northern end of 540

The northern end of 540 doesn't have to pay tolls because the road was uilt using tax payer money.  The southern end has to pay tolls, because very little tax money was used to build the road. 

But, the people of north Raleigh won't escape unscathed.  In 2015 or so when they make major improvements to that part of 540, NCDOT will be able to fund those improvements through a toll.  Eventually, 540 will be a toll road all of the way around. 

Why not now?

Tolls could be levied at the northern end NOW and then PAY for the improvements when needed. Or is that to tough a concept for government. Actually have the money on hand to pay for the construction. Gee, you might be able to avoid a bond referendum. Win, win, put toll booths all around on 540!

Can't Collect Now

Because the Politicians will see it as free money to spend how they please like they have done in the past. Then they will need to raise the fuel tax, again, to pay for what they have borrowed.

They have tried that, but

They have tried that, but there is a state law that prevents putting tolls on an existing interstate.  This is why the 540 from I-40 to NC 55 is marjked NC 540.

Good Question

Good Question.

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About the blogger

Bruce Siceloff reports on traffic and transportation. A News & Observer reporter, editor and blogger since 1976, he took over the Road Worrier column in 2003. Lately he drives I-40 with the cruise control set at 68 mph. You can e-mail Bruce, call him at 919-829-4527, check out his Crosstown Traffic blog or follow him (@Road_Worrier) on Twitter.