First quarter numbers show Expressway meeting and exceeding projections
RALEIGH — Five months after its latest segment opened to traffic, the Triangle Expressway continues to see a steady increase in drivers who are discovering the benefits of using North Carolina’s first modern toll road.
The Expressway is designed to provide a solution to concerns about rapid growth, heavy congestion and dwindling resources. It improves commuter mobility, and better connects Wake County and the Research Triangle Park while reducing congestion on the existing north-south routes that serve the Triangle Region.
Drivers like Sheri Mello, who lives in Apex and works in North Raleigh, says the connection is a huge time saver. It reduced her morning commute by more than 20 minutes.
“On the commute home it has sometimes cut off up to an hour because if you are stuck on the beltline in traffic because there was an accident, you are just stuck,” Mello said. “Now I can just jump on 540 and I’m home in 30 minutes, and I can get dinner on the table and still get my kids out to their activities at night.”
In December 2012, more than 960,000 toll transactions were processed by the Turnpike Authority, with the busiest section of the roadway averaging 19,800 drivers on a typical weekday. (2012 Statistics Report) According to the 2013 first quarter statistics report, in March of this year, that number has jumped to more than 1,780,000 transactions and 24,900 vehicles. (2013 1Q Statistics Report)
“We recognized the great need for this section of 540 and are thrilled to provide this connection to help improve our citizens’ quality of life,” Turnpike Authority Director of Toll Road Operations Andy Lelewski said.
NCDOT has sold nearly 70,000 NC Quick Pass® transponders to date. (2013 1Q Statistics Report) In January, the Turnpike Authority executed an agreement with E-ZPass® to ensure compatibility with other existing toll collection systems and customers can now use the NC Quick Pass® hardcase version transponder on out-of-state toll roads in the northeast that accept E-ZPass®. The agreement also allows E-ZPass® customers to use their devices on the Triangle Expressway.
The toll road was financed using a combination of State Appropriation bonds (36.5%), Toll Revenue bonds (26%), and a low-interest federal TIFIA loan (37.5%) also to be repaid with toll revenues.
Current projections show that the Triangle Expressway may come in approximately $30 million under budget and that it is meeting revenue forecasts under the 34-year funding plan.
“The Expressway is doing exactly what we had envisioned,” Lelewski said. “Our ridership has increased tremendously since opening Phase III in December, and we are right on track with our projections.”
Drivers like Mello say paying the daily toll to avoid traffic is worth every penny.
“For me the cost is insignificant because I’m home with my family, I’m not stressed, and I’m not late for my patients so for me it’s a win-win.”
Triangle Expressway Background:
The Triangle Expressway is an 18-mile, six-lane, all-electronic toll road built as part of the Triangle’s outer loop around Raleigh. The project consists of 10 interchanges, 40 bridges, 22 culverts and eight toll collection sites. At a cost of just over $1 billion dollars and a construction schedule of just three years, the Triangle Expressway is the largest infrastructure project in North Carolina’s history.
This landmark project provides the cornerstone for building a successful statewide tolling program. Backed by public support, innovative financing, state-of-the-art technology and accelerated project delivery, this project serves as a catalyst for future tolling endeavors.
For additional information on the Triangle Expressway, watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltTw1eV8obA&feature=youtu.be
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