North Carolina House Approves Study of Additional Toll Roads

Fri June 17, 2005 - Southeast Edition
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RALEIGH, NC (AP) North Carolina’s toll road authority could study and build up to nine projects — up from the current three — in a bill approved June 1 by the House.

The North Carolina Turnpike Authority agreed this year to study four projects but under current law can’t build them all. There are now no toll roads in North Carolina.

Supporters of studying more projects argue it will make it easier to complete critical highway jobs. The number of highway contracts this year are expected to be reduced due to a cash drain in the Department of Transportation funds (DOT).

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

Projects the authority already has agreed to study are a bridge across the Cape Fear River in Wilmington; a 20-mi. parkway between Charlotte/Douglas International Airport and Gastonia; the Monroe Connector between the U.S. 74 bypass and Interstate 485; and a road from the Durham Freeway to I-540.

The bill also would appear to assist efforts to build a proposed bridge linking mainland Currituck County across the Currituck Sound to the resort communities of the northern Outer Banks.

The bill states the Department of Transportation would have authority until July 2009 to issue a license to build a private toll bridge of “more than two miles in length going from the mainland to a peninsula bordering the State of Virginia.”

A law that gave DOT this authority had expired in 2003 and did not define where the bridge would have to be built.

Mainland Currituck motorists now must travel across the Wright Memorial Bridge and enter Dare County before traveling north to the Currituck Outer Banks along the two-lane NC Highway 12, which is heavily congested during the vacation season.

The measure was tentatively approved 99-19 and sent to the Senate on a second, voice vote.