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Raleigh City Council Suggests Tolls To Pay For I-540 Expansion

Traffic jam
epSos via Flickr, Creative Commons

Increasingly congested roadways are worrying officials in Raleigh.

The City Council has submitted a "wish list" of road improvement projects to the North Carolina Department of Transportation. It includes a proposal to add lanes to I-540 on the north side of the city.

The council doesn't expect the state to fund the project, so it suggested paying for the 108 million-dollar expansion by setting up tolls on the roadway.

Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin says she knows tolls would not be popular, but she thinks breaking up traffic jams would be.

“We have a tremendous amount of traffic, and I think that people would rather pay a toll than be sitting in traffic for an hour,” Baldwin said.

Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane says road expansions alone cannot sustain the Triangle's growing population.

“Looking at things like a regional transportation system is really important right now, because it's not going to be too long before we have squeezed out all the capacity on the existing roads,” McFarlane said. “And it's much better if we can make those decisions now, where we can put them in place and grow around them in the way we want, than waiting till we have to try and retrofit something later.”

McFarlane says the Triangle's "economic vitality" depends on people's ability to get to work easily. She says she hopes the Wake County Commission will develop a comprehensive plan to improve and expand public transit.

Rebecca Martinez produces podcasts at WUNC. She’s been at the station since 2013, when she produced Morning Edition and reported for newscasts and radio features. Rebecca also serves on WUNC’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability (IDEA) Committee.
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