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Could a bond issue allow the Cape Fear Skyway to be toll free?

Yes, it is indeed possible.

The $550 Million Wilmington Bypass/Cape Fear Skyway Project is one of the several proposed NC Turnpike Authority (NCTA) projects.

In a recent Brunswick County Commissioners meeting, the NCTA presented an update to their Cape fear Skyway Toll Highway proposal. Afterwards, County Commissioner urged those in attendance to contact the 21st Century Transportation Committee in support of a bond issue that would help finance road construction throughout the state.

If built as a toll road, the tolls would only cover 50% of the cost causing the NCTA to look for other sources of 'gap funding', most likely from the state's General Fund. However, a member of the NCTA's Board of Directors, David Redwine, said that if a bond referendum is passed it could solve the funding gap problem for the Cape Fear Skyway. He also stated that tolling the highway is just a series of options to get the project underway.

Story: Wilmington Star-News

Commentary:

Well, the idea of a bond issue to pay for the Skyway not only caught the attention of the Brunswick County Commissioners, but it also made waves with the Editorial staff at the Star-News.

On Tuesday, the paper penned an editorial titled "Toll-free, if possible" voicing their support in "...the state should do everything in its power to avoid building [the Cape Fear Skyway] as a toll road."

They also point out and strongly urge (as it also has been in this blog as well) the legislature to phase down and ultimately eliminate the annual transfer of $170 million from the Highway Trust Fund to the General Fund. The suggestion has also been made by the 21st Century Transportation Committee, and it should come up in the upcoming short session of the NC Legislature.

The Star-News editorial also looks at the possibility of a state-wide bond issue along with county based sales tax increases (like the one recently approved in Horry County, South Carolina) to help fund highway projects.

It seems to me that the bond issue is being floated around as a trial balloon. If editorials and discussion of the possible bond issue continues, it may in fact make it to a state wide referendum in the near future.

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