Tolls steam ahead in North Carolina
By Peter Samuel
North Carolina Turnpike Authority have received bids totaling $584m for design-build of the three-part Triangle Expressway project in the western part of Raleigh. That's well within preliminary cost estimates of around $645m. The Triangle Expressway work consists of:
- Triangle Parkway 5.5km (3.4 miles) a connector road to NC147 and I-40 West
- North Wake Expressway NC540 4.5km (2.8 miles) to I-540 and I-40 East
- West Wake Freeway NC540 20.3km (12.6 miles) a north south part of an outer belt route
The road net will be all 3+3 lanes for a 30.3km (18.8 miles) centerline and 182 lane-km or 113 lane-miles, the arithmetic being a unit cost of $3.2m/lane-km or $5.2m/lane-mile.
There are ten interchanges.
Gap funding OK'd
A couple of weeks back NCTA received legislative blessing with "gap funding" commitments of $25m/year to strengthen the finances of the state owned turnpike.
Contracts for design & build are due to be signed before the end of next month for opening of the road late 2010.
NCTA will do all-electronic tolling on the new tollroad - transponder based accounts and video tolling. No cash will be handled. The Authority is leaving as late as possible a decision on the toll technology to be used - hoping to be able to take into account the direction the E-ZPass Inter Agency Group is going in the ongoing technology re-compete.
Procurement of a toll system will begin early next year.
Mid-Currituck Bridge concession
NCTA is in the midst of procuring a private toll concession to develop a new bridge to the Outer Banks barrier islands on the Atlantic Ocean - a popular weekender and tourist destination located in far northeast North Carolina. Named the Mid Currituck Bridge it will be 11km (7 miles) in length and one lane per direction. The work may also involve upgrading NC12 the spinal road on the keys. Cost has been estimated around $650m.
This would be the third access route to the Outer Banks.
A draft request for concession proposals is expected shortly with Sept 29 as date for the final RFP to be issued, and Oct 27 for proposers to submit their proposals. A final EIS is scheduled for Aug 2009 and a concession agreement should be executed Oct 2009.
There are four groups presently contending for the toll concession which will involve design, build, finance, operate and toll:
- Hochtief/Bilfinger Berger
- ACS (Spain)
Three other toll projects are on the go:
- Gaston East-West Connector west of Charlotte
- Monroe Connector/Bypass east of Charlotte
- Cape Fear Skyway, Wilmington
#10 state, passed Jersey
North Carolina is now the tenth most populous US state with 9.1m pop. It displaced New Jersey (8.7m) from #10 a couple of years ago. But it has a ways to go before it has tollroads like Jersey's!