RALEIGH (WTVD) -- As more people move to North Carolina, traffic just seems to get worse and worse, especially in the Triangle.
Drivers often find themselves heading back from work and wondering if paying to take the toll road is worth the money. Taking the toll road can cost you a pretty penny, but there's a way to get on the road without paying full price.
The NC Quick Pass allows drivers to take toll roads at a reduced rate. In this article we'll explain how it works.
First, let's talk about the toll road systems in North Carolina, and give you links to how much using each toll will cost you.
The Triangle Expressway
The Triangle Expressway, which is the first modern toll road built in North Carolina, is an 18.8-mile toll road that extends the partially complete "outer loop" around the greater Raleigh area from I-40 to the N.C. 55 Bypass.
The expressway has two sections: The Triangle Parkway and the Western Wake Freeway. The Triangle Parkway extends from NC 147 in Durham County to NC 540 in Morrisville in Wake County, whereas the Western Wake Freeway continues along to Holly Springs.
For people traveling the 17.4 miles on the Triangle Expressway between N.C. 147 at I-40 and the N.C. 55 Bypass, the bill-by-mail cost will clock in at $5.17. However, if you have an NC Quick Pass, you'll only be charged $3.37.
The Monroe Expressway
Also known as Toll U.S. 74 Bypass, the Monroe Expressway is NC's newest all-electronic toll road, which means there's no toll booths and no stopping.
It extends 18 miles from U.S. 74 near I-485 in Mecklenburg County to U.S. 74 between the towns of Wingate and Marshville in Union County.
I-77 Express Lanes
The I-77 Express Lanes are tolled dedicated travel lanes along I-77 between I-277 (Exit 11) in Charlotte and N.C. 150 (Exit 36), in Mooresville.
The I-77 Express Lanes run adjacent to the free general-purpose lanes.
Drivers can choose to pay a toll for a generally faster travel time and can use the express lanes for free if there are more than three people in the car and the driver has an NC Quick Pass E-ZPass Flex Transponder (more information on this below).
There are several options to choose from when considering which physical pass, or transponder, to get. Here are the options:
NC Quick Pass Interior Sticker
The NC Quick Pass Interior Sticker is meant for people who only plan to travel on toll facilities within North Carolina, Florida (SunPass) and Georgia (Peach Pass).
The cost of the physical sticker, which actually contains a microchip, is now free.
How it works: Install the NC Quick Pass sticker on the inside of your windshield behind your rearview mirror. Antennas above the road receive a signal from a microchip inside the sticker, and tolls are deducted automatically from your prepaid NC Quick Pass account.
There is also a version of this sticker for motorcycles.
NC Quick Pass E-ZPass Interior Transponder
NC Quick Pass E-ZPass Interior Transponder is meant for people who plan to travel on toll facilities within North Carolina, Florida (SunPass), Georgia (Peach Pass) and where E-ZPass is accepted.
The cost of this sticker is $7.40 plus tax.
As with the previous sticker, this one is mounted on the inside of your windshield behind your rearview mirror.
NC Quick Pass E-ZPass Exterior Bumper-Mount Transponder
NC Quick Pass E-ZPass Exterior Bumper-Mount Transponder is meant for people who plan to travel on toll facilities within North Carolina, Florida (SunPass), Georgia (Peach Pass) and where E-ZPass is accepted.
This is the same as the previous option, but this one is for cars that have material in them that interfere with the operation of the transponder. The list of those cars can be viewed here.
The cost of this bumper mount is $13.49 plus tax.
How it works: The bumper-mount transponder is a hard-case transponder that is mounted on the exterior front bumper of your car. Antennas above the road read a signal from a microchip inside the mount, and tolls are deducted automatically from your prepaid NC Quick Pass account.
NC Quick Pass E-ZPass Flex Transponder
The NC Quick Pass E-ZPass Flex Transponder is a good option for customers who plan to travel on toll facilities within North Carolina, Florida (SunPass), Georgia (Peach Pass) and where E-ZPass is accepted.
The cost of this hard transponder is $16.49 plus tax.
How it works: The NC Quick Pass E-ZPass Flex transponder has a switch to declare High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) status in the I-77 Express Lanes. The device is mounted on the interior of a windshield. To travel toll-free in the I-77 Express Lanes in North Carolina with three or more people in the vehicle, slide the switch to the right to declare HOV status. The transponder will beep once and display "HOV ON."
When the HOV status is not active, travel in the I-77 Express Lanes will be charged at the posted toll rate.
Of course, to get any one of these devices, you need to create a prepaid account.
For a personal account, you can have up to five vehicles on it.
Each car on the account must have one of the transponders listed above. Additionally, you have to put $20 into a prepaid account for each of the first two transponders, and all transponders after that will require $10 each for the prepaid toll account.
A list of all of NC's toll rates and quick pass savings can be viewed here.