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NCTA continues to look at tolling I-140/US 17 to pay for Cape Fear Skyway

The NCTA is looking at the possibility of tolling part of or all of the US 17/I-140 Wilmington Bypass as a way of generating additional funds for the Cape Fear Skyway.

Currently, the projected revenue from the 9.5 mile toll road would only pay for half the cost of the $1.0 - $1.5 billion project. As a result, that would require a minimum of $49.2 million per year gap funding paid for out of North Carolina's general budget for 40 years.

Tolling the entire bypass (when completed) could possibly reduce the gap funding at an $11 million per year rate. In fact, the NCTA estimates that in a 40 year period tolls on the Wilmington Bypass would generate more revenue than the Skyway. $2.4 billion over 40 years compared to $1.5 billion over 40 years for the Skyway.

Of course, because the Wilmington Bypass has been funded with federal tax dollars, it would need to get approval from not only the state legislature (which has to approve all toll projects) but from the federal government as well.

Story:
Tolls on the table for Skyway Project ---Wilmington Star-News

Commentary:
The NCTA has been hinting at this proposal for quite some time. In fact, nearly 18 months ago the Leland Town Council passed a resolution opposing any tolls on the Wilmington Bypass. The motion was passed unanimously.

As much as the Cape Fear Skyway is needed and as much as I applaud any suggestion to reduce overall costs to taxpayers, this idea isn't going to work. Tolling existing free roads to pay for future toll roads will not sit well with Wilmington residents, tourists, and citizens throughout North Carolina. The state is more likely to gain support for a transportation or road gasoline or even another increase in the sales tax than they would for tolling a previously 'free' highway just to build another toll road. That's not counting they would have to get approval from the FHWA and Congress.

My guess is that the NCTA will try to spin the Wilmington Bypass and Cape Fear Skyway as one total project - and looking at it on a map - yes you could. But the reality is, they aren't.

And hypothetically, if this proposal is allowed to happen - this just gives the NCTA the green light to toll other existing roads just to pay for the construction of another toll road.

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