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NC Legislature to debate toll funding

The issue of whether or not the state of North Carolina should help fund the $20 million gap for the Triangle Expressway toll project will take center stage within the NC General Assembly and Senate over the upcoming weeks.

In a WRAL-TV report Friday night, more detail was given on the upcoming legislative debate on toll financing. The North Carolina Turnpike Authority estimates that there is a $20 million gap in costs to built the highway and revenue they will receive in tolls.

If the measure isn't passed - lawmakers hope to have a decision made by July 16 -, the NCTA says the project - and as a result other projects like the Cape Fear Skyway - will be in jeopardy.
“Without the gap funding, the project certainly is in question,” said Steve DeWitt with the Turnpike Authority.

“There are other ways to do it, although they’re not quite as palatable. Private market, through a public-private partnership, is an option. It's not the best option for this state, but it is an option,” said DeWitt.
The private-public partnership idea may see more discussion in the upcoming weeks. It is used elsewhere worldwide (South America and Europe) and the idea has been gaining more momentum within the United States.

There are concerns on the concept which includes a concessionaires agreement between the state and the private investment. Are the tolls to be regulated etc? Control of maintenance etc.?

Obviously, the decision of the General Assembly will have a great impact on the future of toll roads and toll financing within the state. A 'no' vote does damage the prospect of toll highways being built, but it doesn't kill the idea altogether. A 'yes' vote means the Triangle Expressway is very likely going to be built as a toll road, and it breathes life into other toll projects. It's going to be an interesting couple of weeks.

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