Cover Story: Toll road "Quick Pass" on sale

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The effort to keep you from sitting in traffic has cleared another hurdle, but it could cost you.

On Tuesday, the North Carolina DOT began selling Quick Passes - a device which you'll be able to use on North Carolina's first toll road which opens in two months in the Raleigh area.  And will eventually come to these parts.

It's a major shift in the way the state does roads.

Tolls roads, we all know.  You pull up.  See the amount.  Pay your money.  And drive away.

And who likes them.

"I don't like them," says driver Glenn Timmer.  "I would rather see the gas tax go up a couple pennies. They're a pain."

"We just came from North Miami Beach and every time you go over the intercoastal waterway you got to throw money on a toll gate. You don't like it? No," said driver Barbara Hurley.

What they broke ground on two years ago - what will be North Carolina's first toll road - is not your grandfather's toll road.

No toll plazas on this road.  No stopping here, but you still have to pay.

"Well, it's a necessary evil. I guess.

The North Carolina Turnpike Authority on Tuesday began selling electronic passes for those who plan to drive the Triangle Expressway.  It will be a nearly 20-mile second outerbelt for the Raleigh - Durham area.

The first three and a half-mile section in the north opens in December.  The southern leg opens next year.

Instead of fishing for change drivers can purchase a "North Carolina Quick Pass" - a sticker for 5 bucks.  The hard case tag is 20.

Every time you drive through the tolled section 15 cents a mile is automatically deducted from a prepaid account.

No quick pass?  Cameras set up along the route will capture your license plate.  A bill is then sent in the mail.

That option is more expensive, 24 cents a mile.

The money collected will go to pay for roughly 70-percent of the one-billion dollar Triangle Expressway.

"The fact of the matter is this is the only way we can pay for these tremendously expensive roads," says David Joyner, executive director of the NC Turnpike Authority.

In addition to the Triangle Expressway, four other toll road projects are in the works.

Two are along the coast.  And two are here in the Charlotte region:  A bypass around Monroe, which will take traffic off Highway 74.  And the Garden Parkway around Gastonia.

That one in particular has been met with protests by Gaston county neighbors who believe it's not needed and say they don't want it.

Down the road on I-77 north of Center City, the state is considering converting the HOV lanes to toll lanes - allowing solo drivers to use them and pay a fee.  Quick Pass transponders will be used here as well.

The transponders went on sale Tuesday at the Quick Pass Customer Service Center in Morrisville.

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