Governor OKs Up To Nine Toll Roads For Turnpike Authority

Wed August 31, 2005 - Southeast Edition

RALEIGH, NC (AP) The North Carolina Turnpike Authority can triple the number of toll road projects it can build to nine under legislation signed this month by Gov. Mike Easley.

Supporters say increasing the number of potential projects makes it easier to complete critical highway jobs while a cash drain at the Department of Transportation is expected to reduce the number of highway contracts this year.

Any toll project approved for construction would be financed with bonds repaid with collected tolls.

The measure also attempts to speed up work on two coastal bridges — the 42-year-old Herbert C. Bonner Bridge, which spans Oregon Inlet on the Outer Banks, and a private toll bridge, probably one connecting mainland Currituck County to the northern Outer Banks. The measure gives DOT a license through mid-2009 to build that bridge.

Also, the state budget approved last week allows the state to petition the federal government to allow toll booths on interstates, with Interstate 95 given priority.

The provision requires that money generated by the tolls be spent to repair and maintain the interstate on which the tolls were collected.

The state would place the toll booths at its borders and other locations not deemed impractical, unfeasible or unsafe, the budget states.

Past reports called for charging drivers $18 to travel the entire 182 miles of I-95 through eastern North Carolina.