North Carolina Turnpike Authority

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North Carolina Turnpike Authority
Ncturnpikeauthority.png
Agency overview
Formed October 3, 2002 (2002-10-03)[1]
Jurisdiction North Carolina
Headquarters 1 S Wilmington St, Raleigh, NC 27601
Parent agency North Carolina Department of Transportation
Website http://www.ncdot.gov/turnpike/

The North Carolina Turnpike Authority was created in 2002 to speed the implementation of needed transportation improvements by funding some projects with tolls. Governed by a nine-member authority board, it is located within the Department of Transportation and under the direct supervision of the Secretary of Transportation. The authority has the power to study, plan, develop and undertake preliminary design work on up to nine turnpike projects. At the conclusion of these actives, the authority is authorized to design, establish, purchase, construct, operate and maintain toll highways and bridges. The authority is also authorized to designate one or more lanes of any highway, or portion thereof, into a high-occupancy toll lanes (HOT lanes) or other type of managed lanes; provided that such designation does not reduce the number of existing non-toll general purpose lanes.

Structure[edit]

The nine-member Authority Board consist of eight appointees, from the General Assembly (four members) and Governor (four members), and the Secretary of Transportation. The General Assembly appoints four members, two by recommendation by the President pro tempore of the Senate and two by recommendation by the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Appointments to the board are four-year staggered terms. The Chair of the Authority is selected by the Authority Board. Members of the North Carolina Board of Transportation may serve as members of the Authority Board.

Upon end of term, all members of the Authority Board will remain in office until their successors are appointed and qualified. The original appointing authority may appoint a member to serve out the unexpired term of any member. Each member of the Authority Board serves at the pleasure of the appointing authority. The Chair of the Authority serves at the pleasure of the Authority Board. The appointed members of the Authority Board receives no salary for their services; however, are entitled to receive per diem and travel allowances.

An executive director, appointed by the Authority Board, serves as the Authority's chief administrative officer and is responsible for the daily administration of the toll roads and bridges constructed, maintained or operated. The Executive Director or his/her designee shall appoint, employ, dismiss and, within the limits approved by the Authority Board, fix the compensation of administrative employees as the executive director deems necessary.[2]

History[edit]

The North Carolina Turnpike Authority was established on October 3, 2002, by ratification of House Bill 644 (S.L. 2002-133) and signed by Governor Mike Easley.[1] In its original draft, the authority was independent and only able to establish the first three projects in the following conditions: one project located in whole or in part in a county with a population equal to or greater than 650,000 persons; one project located in a county or counties that each have a population of fewer that 650,000 persons; and one project shall be a bridge of more than two miles (3.2 km) in length going from the mainland to a peninsula bordering the state of Virginia. In 2005, Senate Bill 622 (S.L. 2005-276) added new language regarding establishing tollways on Federally funded highways designated as interstates; the purpose was so that the state can possibly add tolls along Interstate 95 (I-95), if approved by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and all interested parties along the route.[3][4] In 2006, Senate Bill 1381 (S.L. 2006-228) focused the project to the following:

The 2006 law also made an exception, or loophole, to the prohibition of converting any segment of the nontolled state highway system to a toll, by specifically identifying I-540 that was currently under construction as of July 1, 2006, located in Wake and Durham counties, and extending from I-40 southwest to North Carolina Highway 55 (NC 55). In addition, the law also mandates the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) to maintain an existing, alternate, comparable non-toll route for each toll route constructed by the authority.[5] In December 2006, FHWAapproved the tolling project on what was going to be I-540 along the Western Wake Freeway.[6]

In 2008, Senate Bill 1697 (S.L. 2008-225) established the enforcement of tolls on turnpike projects and clarified and revised several sections, including: removal of I-540 from project list, collection of tolls (via mail or transponder), payment system for tolls, civil penalties for not paying tolls and procedures for contesting liability for unpaid tolls. The Triangle Parkway was also renamed the Triangle Expressway, which incorporated segments also known as NC 147 (Triangle Parkway) and NC 540 (Western Wake Freeway), in Wake and Durham counties.[7]

In 2009, House Bill 1617 (S.L. 2009-343) transferred the functions and funds of the North Carolina Turnpike Authority to NCDOT to conserve expenditures and improve efficiency.[8][9] In August, the groundbreaking ceremony took place on the first phase of the Triangle Expressway.[6] On May 4, 2010, the Authority signed a contract with TransCore to provide transponders.[10]

In December 2011, phase one of the Triangle Expressway was open to traffic; on January 3, 2012, toll collection began. On June 26, 2012, Senate Bill 895 (S.L. 2012-85) gave the authority the ability to enter into reciprocal toll enforcement agreements with other toll agencies.[11] In August, 2012, phase two of the Triangle Expressway was open to traffic and immediately began toll collection. In December 2012, phase three of the Triangle Expressway was opened to traffic; on January 3, 2013, toll collection began on the final section.[6]

In 2013, House Bill 817 (S.R. 2013-183) made sweeping changes to the authority, including: removal of several turnpike projects, including the Triangle Expressway Southeast Extension, Garden Parkway, Cape Fear Skyway and the Mid-Currituck Bridge. reestablishing the turnpike project limit to nine, with the existing Triangle Expressway counting as three and the Monroe Connector/Bypass as one. New turnpike projects must follow new conditions prior to the letting of a contract for project. A limit of up to three agreements with a private entity, with an agreement of no more than 50 years from the date of the beginning of operations on the toll facility. The designation of HOT and managed lanes.[12]

Toll roads[edit]

As of 2014, the Authority operates 18.8 miles (30.3 km) of tollways in two counties in North Carolina:

Managed lanes[edit]

The authority currently has no HOT lanes in North Carolina.

Unlike the turnpike projects, the Authority is not limited to the number of managed lane projects it may construct and operate. The authority may also convert lanes that may previously have been designated as high-occupancy vehicle lane (HOV) or other type of managed lanes; provided that such designated does not reduce the number of existing non-toll general purpose lanes. In making such designations, the authority will specify the high-occupancy requirement or other conditions for use of such lanes, which may include restricting vehicle types, access controls, or the payment of tolls for vehicles that do not meet the high-occupancy requirements or conditions for use.[2]

As of 2014, three managed lane projects are fully funded for construction:

  • I-77 Express Lanes—a public-private partnership with Cintra to build managed lanes along 25 miles (40 km) of I-77, between Brookshire Boulevard (exit 11) and NC 150 (exit 36), in Mecklenburg and Iredell counties. The $655 million project, which will convert existing HOV lanes and add/extend additional lanes, is expected to be completed and opened in 2019.[13][14]
  • I-485 Express Lanes—this project will establish managed lanes along 16.62 miles (26.75 km) of the Governor James G. Martin (southeast) segment of I-485, between U.S. Highway  74 (US 74, exit 51) and I-77/US 21 (exit 67), in Mecklenburg County. The project, which will add one express lane on both directions, will cost $184.1 million and is not anticipated to start construction until 2019.[15][16]
  • Independence Express Lanes (US 74)— this project will establish managed lanes along five miles (8.0 km) of US 74, between I-277 and Wallace Lane, in Mecklenburg County. The project, which will convert existing bus lanes will cost $13 million and expected to be completed and opened by the end of 2016.[16][17]

Turnpike projects[edit]

As of 2014, two turnpike projects are fully funded for construction:

Any other project proposed by the authority requires prior consultation with the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations. For a project to be considered a turnpike project, it must meet the following conditions prior to the letting of a contract for the project: 1) Two of the projects must be ranked in the top 35 based on total score on the department-produced list entitled "Mobility Fund Project Scores" dated June 6, 2012, and, in addition, may be subject to G.S. 136-18(39a).[a] 2) Of the projects not ranked as provided in (1), one may be subject to G.S. 136-18(39a). 3) The project shall be included in any applicable locally adopted comprehensive transportation plans. 4) The project shall be shown in the current State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP).[21] 5) Toll projects must be approved by all affected Metropolitan Planning Organizations and Rural Transportation Planning Organizations for tolling.

Proposed projects[edit]

Stipulated in the 2013 law, proposed toll road and bridges must go through same process as other transportation projects, have an STIP score and rated with other criteria contained in the Strategic Mobility Formula.[12] NCDOT will circulate a draft of the STIP for public comment in December 2014.[22] NCDOT anticipates the Board of Transportation will adopt it in June 2015. Listed below are proposed projects, currently in review and subject to change:

  • Cape Fear Skyway—$642 million project that will construct new 9.75-mile (15.69 km) four-lane highway and bridge, between US 17 and US 421, in Brunswick and New Hanover counties.[23]
  • Garden Parkway—$318 million project that will construct a new 21.65-mile (34.84 km) four-lane highway, between I-85 and I-485, in Gaston and Mecklenburg counties.[24][25]
  • I-40 Express Lanes—$1.7 billion project that will add managed lanes along 31.73 miles (51.06 km) of I-40, between US 15/US 501 (exit 270) and I-440 (exit 301), in Durham and Wake counties.[14][26][27][28]
  • I-74 Toll—$305 million project that will construct new 16.8 miles (27.0 km) six-lane highway, between US 52 and I-74/US 311, in Forsyth County.[29]
  • I-77 Express Lanes Extension—$855 million project that will add managed lanes along 9.45 miles (15.21 km) of I-77/US 21, between I-485/Westinghouse Boulevard (exit 1) and Brookshire Boulevard (exit 11), in Mecklenburg County.[30][31][32]
  • I-540 Express Lanes—$209 million or $354 million project that will add managed lanes along 17.51 miles (28.18 km) or 24.94 miles (40.14 km) of I-540, between NC 54 and US 1 or I-495/US 64/US 264, in Durham and Wake counties.[33][34]
  • I-540 Toll—a project, requested by the Capital Area MPO in 2011, that will convert all of I-540 into a toll highway, in Durham and Wake counties and requires federal approvals.[35]
  • Mid-Currituck Bridge—$173 million project that will construct new 6.87 miles (11.06 km) two-lane highway and bridge over the Currituck Sound, in Currituck County.[36][37]
  • Triangle Expressway Eastern Extension (NC 540)—$285 million project that will construct new 10.61 miles (17.08 km) six-lane highway, between I-495/US 64/US 264 and I-40/US 70, in Johnston and Wake counties.[20][38]

NC Quick Pass[edit]

The NC Quick Pass is a pre-paid account used for all electronic toll collection (ETC) facilities in North Carolina. Three types of transponders are available: sticker, hardcase, and exterior transponder. Personal (limited to five transponders/vehicles) and business accounts (unlimited) are available; a $1 fee is imposed per month if the account has been inactive for 12 months.

NC Quick Pass is interoperable with the following ETC systems:

  • E-ZPass—since January 3, 2013; however, drivers must use hardcase or exterior transponder only.
  • Florida's SunPass—since July 29, 2013.[39]
  • Georgia's PeachPass—since November 12, 2014.[40]

While NC Quick Pass users receive a discounted toll rate, no users will be invoiced at a higher toll rate through the bill by mail program. This is done when a vehicle passes through a toll gantry, where a overhead camera will take a video image of the license plate. The registered owner of the vehicle is identified through the Department of Motor Vehicles and a bill by mail is sent for payment.

If the bill is not paid within 30 days from the date of the bill, it may escalate to include fees, civil penalties, DMV registration holds, submission to a collection agency, or all of the above.[41]

Criticism[edit]

No Tolls on 540, a citizens' group opposed to tolls on I-540, was formed in March 2007

The North Carolina Turnpike Authority and later the North Carolina Department of Transportation have received continued criticism since the 2002 law allowing toll highway and bridges in the state. Written in the law to speed the implementation of needed transportation improvements; however, most of the projects assigned or chosen by the authority were controversial in their own right, which have caused long delays or temporarily canceled. The Triangle Expressway experienced political and NIMBY campaigns against the tolling of the Western Wake Freeway, which was originally going to be an extension of I-540, and ridicule for being unable to sell bonds to fund the project.[42][43] After the Triangle Expressway opened, criticism shifted to its expansion with towns against its routing and environmental concerns.[44][45][46][47] The Garden Parkway and Monroe Connector/Bypass were both criticized that they would generate additional urban sprawl, lambasting politicians that had land deals along the routes and generated lawsuits that stem from the flawed environmental studies.[48][49][50] And both the Cape Fear Skyway and Mid-Currituck Bridge were criticized as expensive pork projects. This continued chorus of criticism reached the North Carolina General Assembly, where they removed the Garden Parkway, Cape Fear Skyway and Mid-Currituck Bridge from the authority's to-do list and compete against other transportation projects in the state.[51][52][53]

More recent criticisms have erupted when the authority was given the ability to setup public-private partnerships. Its first contract with Cintra, to build I-77 HOT lanes and operate for 50 years, has provoked local groups to hire legal council in attempts to nullify it.[54] Other criticisms stem by politicians and local groups that lambast the authority and NCDOT in recommending toll roads or lanes while other areas in the state are not given such ultimatums.[55]

See also[edit]


Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "House Bill 644 / S.L. 2002-133". North Carolina General Assembly. Retrieved November 16, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Article 6H: Public Toll Roads and Bridges.". North Carolina General Assembly. Retrieved November 16, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Senate Bill 622 / S.L. 2005-276". North Carolina General Assembly. Retrieved November 16, 2014. 
  4. ^ Siceloff, Bruce (February 12, 2012). "Plan fights evasion of I-95 toll in North Carolina". The News & Observer (Raleigh, NC). Retrieved November 16, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Senate Bill 1381 / S.L. 2006-228". North Carolina General Assembly. Retrieved November 16, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c "2012 Turnpike Annual Report". North Carolina Turnpike Authority. 2012. Retrieved November 16, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Senate Bill 1697 / S.L. 2008-225". North Carolina General Assembly. Retrieved November 16, 2014. 
  8. ^ "House Bill 1617 / S.L. 2009-343". North Carolina General Assembly. Retrieved November 16, 2014. 
  9. ^ Baysden, Chris (June 3, 2010). "North Carolina Turnpike Authority merges into NC Department of Transportation". Triangle Business Journal. Retrieved November 16, 2014. 
  10. ^ Siceloff, Bruce (May 5, 2010). "Toll road won't stop you to pay". The News & Observer (Raleigh, NC). Retrieved May 21, 2010. 
  11. ^ "Senate Bill 895 / S.L. 2012-85". North Carolina General Assembly. Retrieved November 16, 2014. 
  12. ^ a b "House Bill 817 / S.L. 2013-183". North Carolina General Assembly. Retrieved November 16, 2014. 
  13. ^ "NCDOT: I-77 Express Lanes". North Carolina Department of Transportation. Retrieved November 16, 2014. 
  14. ^ a b "NCDOT: HOV Lanes". North Carolina Department of Transportation. Retrieved November 17, 2014. 
  15. ^ "SPOT ID: H128073" (PDF). North Carolina Department of Transportation. May 29, 2014. Retrieved November 16, 2014. 
  16. ^ a b Harrison, Steve (November 16, 2014). "State plans early work on Independence Boulevard toll lanes". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved November 16, 2014. 
  17. ^ Burbeck, Tony (November 17, 2014). "Toll lanes on Independence Boulevard?". Charlotte, NC: WCNC-TV. Retrieved November 17, 2014. 
  18. ^ "NCDOT: Monroe Bypass". North Carolina Department of Transportation. Retrieved November 17, 2014. 
  19. ^ Johnston, Melinda (August 19, 2014). "Land acquisition begins for Monroe Connector Bypass". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved November 17, 2014. 
  20. ^ a b "NCDOT: Complete 540 Project". North Carolina Department of Transportation. Retrieved November 17, 2014. 
  21. ^ "NCDOT: Strategic Transportation Investments". North Carolina Department of Transportation. Retrieved November 17, 2014. 
  22. ^ "STIP Total Scores". North Carolina Department of Transportation. September 24, 2014. Retrieved November 17, 2014. 
  23. ^ "SPOT ID: H129646" (PDF). North Carolina Department of Transportation. May 29, 2014. Retrieved November 17, 2014. 
  24. ^ "SPOT ID: H129632" (PDF). North Carolina Department of Transportation. May 29, 2014. Retrieved November 17, 2014. 
  25. ^ "NCDOT: Garden Parkway". North Carolina Department of Transportation. Retrieved November 17, 2014. 
  26. ^ "SPOT ID: H111131" (PDF). North Carolina Department of Transportation. May 29, 2014. Retrieved November 17, 2014. 
  27. ^ "SPOT ID: H111013" (PDF). North Carolina Department of Transportation. May 29, 2014. Retrieved November 17, 2014. 
  28. ^ "SPOT ID: H140728" (PDF). North Carolina Department of Transportation. May 29, 2014. Retrieved November 17, 2014. 
  29. ^ "SPOT ID: H140560" (PDF). North Carolina Department of Transportation. May 30, 2014. Retrieved November 17, 2014. 
  30. ^ "SPOT ID: H140359" (PDF). North Carolina Department of Transportation. May 29, 2014. Retrieved November 17, 2014. 
  31. ^ "SPOT ID: H140369" (PDF). North Carolina Department of Transportation. May 30, 2014. Retrieved November 17, 2014. 
  32. ^ "SPOT ID: H140273" (PDF). North Carolina Department of Transportation. May 30, 2014. Retrieved November 17, 2014. 
  33. ^ "SPOT ID: H128071" (PDF). North Carolina Department of Transportation. May 30, 2014. Retrieved November 17, 2014. 
  34. ^ "SPOT ID: H128072" (PDF). North Carolina Department of Transportation. May 30, 2014. Retrieved November 17, 2014. 
  35. ^ "SPOT ID: H111014" (PDF). North Carolina Department of Transportation. May 29, 2014. Retrieved November 17, 2014. 
  36. ^ "SPOT ID: H129515" (PDF). North Carolina Department of Transportation. September 22, 2014. Retrieved November 17, 2014. 
  37. ^ "NCDOT: Mid-Currituck Bridge". North Carolina Department of Transportation. Retrieved November 17, 2014. 
  38. ^ "SPOT ID: H129617" (PDF). North Carolina Department of Transportation. May 29, 2014. Retrieved November 17, 2014. 
  39. ^ "North Carolina’s Quick Pass and Florida’s SunPass Now Function As One" (Press release). North Carolina Department of Transportation. July 29, 2013. Retrieved August 11, 2013. 
  40. ^ Huppertz, Karen (November 16, 2014). "Peach Pass now works on Florida and North Carolina toll roads". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved November 13, 2014. 
  41. ^ "NC Quick Pass: Frequently Asked Questions". North Carolina Turnpike Authority. Retrieved November 16, 2014. 
  42. ^ Baysden, Chris (October 14, 2008). "North Carolina Turnpike Authority unable to sell bonds for toll road". Triangle Business Journal. 
  43. ^ "Triangle Expressway System Senior Lien Revenue Bonds" (PDF). North Carolina Turnpike Authority. 
  44. ^ Siceloff, Bruce; Campbell, Colin (January 4, 2011). "Garner protest may kill one highway route". The News & Observer (Raleigh, NC). Retrieved January 4, 2011. 
  45. ^ Siceloff, Bruce (May 22, 2012). "New TriEx proposals may save Garner from Red Route". The News & Observer (Raleigh, NC). Retrieved May 22, 2012. 
  46. ^ Siceloff, Bruce (August 22, 2012). "Planners try restarting TriEx project in southern Wake". The News & Observer (Raleigh, NC). Retrieved August 22, 2012. 
  47. ^ Siceloff, Bruce (December 12, 2012). "Federal funding cut, state law challenged on NC 540 Red Route". The News & Observer (Raleigh, NC). Retrieved December 12, 2012. 
  48. ^ Barrett, Michael (June 21, 2012). "House and Senate pull funding for Garden Parkway". The Gaston Gazette (Gastonia, NC). Retrieved July 16, 2012. 
  49. ^ Harrison, Steve (July 12, 2012). "DOT withdraws Garden Parkway permit requests". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved July 16, 2012. 
  50. ^ Barrett, Michael (July 12, 2012). "Garden Parkway plan hits new snag". The Gaston Gazette (Gastonia, NC). Retrieved July 16, 2012. 
  51. ^ Harrison, Steve (April 24, 2014). "Garden Parkway ranks low in new NC highway rankings". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved November 17, 2014. 
  52. ^ Robertson, Gary (June 7, 2013). "Skyway, other turnpike projects removed from NC House bill". Wilmington, NC: WWAY. Retrieved November 17, 2014. 
  53. ^ Robertson, Gary (July 16, 2012). "Pending North Carolina toll projects hit a roadblock". The Fayetteville Observer. Retrieved July 16, 2012. 
  54. ^ Marusak, Joe (October 29, 2014). "Cornelius-based group hires lawyers to fight I-77 toll lanes". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved November 17, 2014. 
  55. ^ Siceloff, Bruce (November 17, 2014). "Road Worrier: NCDOT's urban loops depend on borrowed money". The News & Observer (Raleigh, NC). Retrieved November 18, 2014. 

External links[edit]