North Carolina’s First Toll Road
Earlier this year the North Carolina Turnpike Authority announced the completion of the state’s first toll road.
Costing approximately $1B, the Triangle Expressway is an 18mile stretch of six lane road connecting Durham to Holly Springs. Unlike the proposed HOT lanes on I-77, the TriEx is a publicly operated road. The state paid for approximately two thirds by issuing bonds, and the remaining one third comes from a federal loan. Tolls are a comparatively modest 14.5 cents per mile, give or take.
The initial traffic projection was 54,000 vehicles per day. This was subsequently
downgraded to 20,000 vpd, fewer cars than West Catawba Avenue in Cornelius carries. So far, it carries about 6,000vpd, or about what I-77 carries in 45 minutes.
Because traffic counts are so low, the General Assembly recently pledged $25 million per year for 30 years (if need be) to cover debt service and operating costs.
Transportation officials note these low traffic numbers “indicate the extent to which the tollroad is being built to cater to future traffic arising from development rather than existing traffic.”
So the state has spent a billion dollars to build a road that someone might drive on someday. Nearly twenty years from now, traffic counts are expected to reach 40,000.
I-77 at exit 28 carries more than twice that today.