North Carolina Turnpike Authority
|This article is outdated. (November 2011)|
The North Carolina Turnpike Authority (NCTA) was created in 2002 as a board with the authority to study, plan, develop and undertake preliminary design work for toll roads and toll bridges in the U.S. state of North Carolina. The NCTA has the power to design, establish, purchase, construct, operate, and maintain certain up to nine (originally three) toll road projects. It was created "out of a need to implement alternative financing to pay for much-needed roads during a time of rapid growth, dwindling resources and skyrocketing costs".
At the present time, the NCTA is operating the Triangle Parkway and Western Wake Freeway as toll roads. Several other projects across the state are under consideration.
The NCTA was created with HR644, a bill which passed both houses of the North Carolina General Assembly and was signed into law by Governor Mike Easley on October 3, 2002. The law prohibits the NCTA from converting any existing roads in the non-tolled system to toll roads, but there is a loophole in the legislation. An existing free road can be converted into a toll road if it "is needed to help establish the financial viability" of a nearby toll project. In addition, the law mandates the North Carolina Department of Transportation to maintain an existing, alternate, comparable non-toll route for each toll route constructed by the NCTA.
In June 2010, the NCTA was merged into NCDOT.
Projects under construction
Triangle Expressway - This project is divided into two segments known separately as the Western Wake Freeway and the Triangle Parkway. The Triangle Parkway segment is an extension of NC-147 beyond I-40 in Research Triangle Park to the intersection of NC-540. This segment was opened to the public in December 2011 and tolling began in January 2012. The Western Wake Freeway portion is an extension of NC-540 beginning at the interchange with NC-54 and extending to NC-55 Bypass in Holly Springs. This section is being completed in two phases, with the first phase (from NC-54 to US-64 in Apex, NC) opened to the public in August of 2012 and the final phase scheduled to open in January 2013.
Tolls for this project are collected electronically either through the use of a transponder or by mail. For customers who purchase an NC QuickPass transponder, tolls are automatically deducted from their prepaid account whenever they drive under the toll gantries. For bill-by-mail customers, a photograph is taken of their license plate as they travel under the gantry and a bill is mailed to the address associated with the registration. If the bill remains unpaid, additional administrative fees of $6.00 per month are added. If the bill remains unpaid for 90 days, a civil penalty of $25 is assessed, which goes to public instruction. Finally, if the bill continues to remain unpaid, the license registration for the vehicle may have a hold placed on it, making it impossible for the vehicle to be registered until the tolls, fees, and penalties are paid in full.
- Gaston East-West Connector (Garden Parkway), a bypass around Gastonia for U.S. Highway 74.
- Monroe Connector/Bypass, a bypass around Monroe for U.S. Highway 74.
- Cape Fear Skyway, a bridge connecting Brunswick County with southern Wilmington and a possible extension of Interstate 140
- Mid-Currituck Bridge, a bridge connecting mainland Currituck County with Corolla and the northernmost Outer Banks communities - a shortcut across the Currituck Sound.
In May 2013, the General Assembly rescinded approval for the Garden Parkway, Cape Fear Skyway, and Mid-Currituck Bridge.
Projects studied but deemed financially infeasible at present
- Interstate 74 in Brunswick County, a segment of a future interstate route across the Green Swamp connecting to South Carolina in Brunswick County
- A Connector between Interstate 73 near the Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro west to Interstate 74 along the Winston-Salem Northern Beltway.
There is continued criticism among North Carolina legislators and citizens about the issue of toll roads in North Carolina, a state which has previously not had tolls for its modern roads. It has been a political campaign issue in state and local elections. Gerry Bowles, a Democrat made the issue of tolls on I-540 a major part of her campaign when she challenged 15th District incumbent Senator Neal Hunt, a Republican. Bowles launched her own (now-defunct) website, www.stop540toll.com, calling for the removal of tolls from plans for the extension of I-540. Bowles, however, lost the 2006 election to Hunt.
In October 2008, the authority was unable to issue bonds to fund the Western Wake Turnpike project as planned due to market conditions affecting municipal bonds such as those. Bonds were later floated, with the assistance of loans from the Federal Highway Administration in June 2009.
- North Carolina Department of Transportation
- North Carolina Ferry System
- North Carolina Highway System
- North Carolina Turnpike Authority official website
- News & Observer - Crosstown Traffic: New tolls for old roads? (June 21, 2006)
- Legislative Watch: North Carolina - 2003 Archive
- North Carolina Turnpike Authority merges into N.C. Department of Transportation
- News & Observer - Toll worrier (May 19, 2006)[dead link]
- "NC STATE SENATE DISTRICT 15". NCSBE.gov website. NC State Board of Elections. Retrieved 24 November 2011.
- News & Observer - $2 for 16 miles: steep or cheap? (June 13, 2006)[dead link]
- Baysden, Chris (October 14, 2008). "North Carolina Turnpike Authority unable to sell bonds for toll road". Triangle Business Journal.
- Triangle Expressway System Senior Lien Revenue Bonds