Skip to main content

For whom the interstate tolls

Hat tip to Dave Filpus on seroads for posting this story about a guy in Apex who doesn't want tolls on 540. (As if the website address -- www.notollson540.org -- didn't give it away.)

I can sympathize with the guy. No, it doesn't seem fair on the surface that the new part of 540 that bypasses west Cary and most of Apex would be tolled, and I'd definitely agree with him that there's no reason whatsoever to toll the soon-to-be-completed portion of 540 between I-40 and NC 55. It seems that the turnpike authority's only reason to toll that part of 540 is to have a continuous turnpike that continues onto the southern extension of the Durham Freeway, also planned to be a toll road. The road's done and paid for; why toll it?

The loop to the west of NC 55, however, is another story. There was a speaker at a public hearing last night that said, essentially, that it's not fair for western Wake commuters to pay for the state's raiding of the Highway Trust Fund, the pot of money specifically earmarked to build urban loop roads in just about every major city in North Carolina. Trust Fund money built the first 29 miles of I-540 (from NC 55 to US 64 in Knightdale), but the piggy bank is pretty much empty now courtesy of lawmakers who used it to balance the state budget. I agree there 100%, but that's an issue to take up with the legislature, not NCDOT. They don't control the purse strings, they just have to go with whatever they're given...which ain't much lately.

But the alternative is way, way worse than paying $2 to bypass Apex. Estimates now indicate that if 540 isn't built as a toll road, it won't be built until 2030. That's another twenty-three years down the line, and you can't convince me that people sitting in traffic in 2007 on NC 55 (which still happens, even now that the road's widened all the way up to RTP) would accept that alternative to paying a toll on a faster road. God only knows how much traffic will be on NC 55 in 23 years even with 540 being built; if it isn't built, heaven help those poor commuters.

So yeah, tolls on 540 might not be fair, and they might not be right, but they're a darned bit better than enduring another quarter-century of backups on NC 55 as an alternative. Sometimes the right thing to do isn't the most popular, but I have a feeling that the outcry will be much greater if 540 isn't built and every road in western Wake County turns into a 24-hour-a-day parking lot.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The story on how the unbuilt US 40 Expressway in Brownsville took 40 years to complete.

For nearly four decades, the four lane US 40 just east of Brownsville came to an abrupt end - shown in the photo above - at Grindstone Road in Redstone Township.   In the late 1960s, what was then the Pennsylvania Division of Highways (PennDOH) extended a new four lane alignment of US 40 eastwards from Broadway Street slightly over one mile to Grindstone Road where an incomplete diamond interchange was built.  Earlier in the decade, PennDOH had built a four lane US 40 in Washington County into Brownsville complete with a new crossing over the Monongahela River known as the Lane Bane Bridge.  This new highway and bridge allowed US 40 to bypass the older Intercounty Bridge and downtown Brownsville.

After this new highway opened, nothing would happen to it for nearly forty years.  US 40 traffic would use the ramps for this planned diamond interchange and then jog on Grindstone Road briefly before continuing towards Uniontown on the original National Road. 
What was unknown (at least to…

California State Route 152

Circumstance had me out in the Monterey Peninsula again this week.  Generally I try to take a route like California State Route 198 or ever County Route J1 to get across the Diablo Range but time had me in a slight bind.  That being the case I took the popular way across the Diablos on California State Route 152 via Pacheco Pass.  152 is one of infamy given it is really the primary route for truckers to get from I-5 west in San Joaquin Valley to US 101 in Salinas Valley.  After zig-zagging some accidents on/off California State Route 99 near Madera in the rural outskirts of the County bearing the same name I began my westbound trek on 152.




CA 152 is called the William Whitehurst Highway, at least it is west from CA 99.  The entire route of CA 152 in San Joaquin is an expressway aside from a small portion in the city of Los Banos.



The first junction on CA 152 is with CA 233 which is a small 4 mile highway that travels northeast to CA 99.






Next westbound CA 152 encounters the junction w…

The National Road - Ohio - Muskingum and Licking Counties

As it travels from Zanesville towards Columbus, US 40 goes through numerous small towns, changes from two to four lanes and back numerous times, but most importantly the old road keeps its rural charm.  Between Zanesville and Gratiot, there are four former alignments of the old road that can be found: just west of Zanesville, Mt. Sterling, Hopewell and Gratiot.  Most stretches are very short and can be easily recognized with names as "Old US 40", "Old National Road" or some combination of the two.

Zanesville:
Just west of US 40's interchange with Interstate 70 (Exit 152) runs an old alignment.

Mt. Sterling:
Another old alignment goes through this small Muskingum County village.
Hopewell:
Today, US 40 passes south of the community of Hopewell.  The old two lane road is known as Hopewell National Road.
Gratiot:
Old US 40 is known as Main Street in this tiny village of 200 or so residents.  The old highway at times seems forgotten through here.
Just west of Gratiot, US 40 …