New year means toll rates going up on Triangle Expressway

This is probably one of the more unpopular New Year's traditions.

Higher tolls for the Triangle Expressway take effect on Wednesday, just as they have on every January 1st since 2013 and just as they will every January 1st until 2050, unless the Turnpike Authority Board votes otherwise.

NC Quick Pass customers who use the road will see an 11-cent increase, a total of $3.48. Bill-by-mail customers will pay 16 cents more, totaling $5.33.

Tolls are also going up on the Monroe Expressway in Charlotte.

"Tolls first and foremost are used to pay back the bond revenue that was sold to fund the construction of the expressway," Angela Queenland, a manager at NC Quick Pass, explains to ABC11.

Those bonds provided $1 billion for the 18.8 mile roadway's construction.

At up to $0.28 per mile, the "Tri-Ex" is among the more expensive roadways in the country, but that doesn't seem to be slowing its growing popularity.

Financial reports reviewed by the ABC11 I-Team show toll transactions last year were 12 percent higher than projections, and revenues went up 30 percent to $52.6 million - $13 million higher than projections.

"In the Triangle we have a population growing every day and everyone wants to get home to their families that much faster," Queenland says.

Despite the extra cash, officials told ABC11 toll rates won't be adjusted because there is also increasing maintenance costs.

"If that traffic increases, then our maintenance costs will increase or come on sooner than we anticipated for in the original scheme of how it was funded," Queenland said. "That includes potholes, maintenance of striping, that includes maintenance includes bridges. It includes the potential for accidents as well."

Still, Queenland asserts there might be some "flexibility" in the long term because extra revenues could help boost cash flow to Complete 540, the $2.2 billion effort to finish the outer loop around Raleigh.
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