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Is the Brunswick County I-74 toll proposal dead in the water?

Along with the recent news on the Cape Fear Skyway, it appears that other possible toll projects in North Carolina are in the news. The proposal to build an 18 mile toll segment of I-74 in Brunswick County was also studied by Wilbur Smith Associates. And like the Cape Fear Skyway, there's not much good news.

David Joyner, who is the executive director of the North Carolina Turnpike Authority (NCTA), told the Brunswick Beacon that tolls would only generate revenue for 42% of the highway's projected $378 million cost. If the highway would be open by 2015, the tolls for the entire 18 miles could be $2.15. In 2030, it is believed that the toll would be $3.15. The tolls are considered the amount that would generate the most possible revenue.

The remaining money would have to come from other funding sources.

Why the skepticism on the proposal? Well, the study points to a toll free US 17 which would parallel the Interstate to the east. The study, which isn't as detailed as more formal and more expensive studies that may occur in the future, said that "...a high-speed toll road does not appear to offer significant advantages over the U.S. 17 toll-free alternative." And that is in addition to having I-74 being open and carrying traffic on both ends of the toll road.

But there's more. SC 9 which will run parallel to the south of free and toll sections of the proposed path of I-74 is another "free alternative." And South Carolina has approved and may toll most of the length of I-73. If I-73 is faster or even cheaper than I-74 with 18 tolled miles at $2.15, the highway becomes even less of an option to motorists.

Finally, as noted in yesterday's entry about the Wilmington Star News' editorial on the Cape Fear Skyway, the WSA study also ranked all the possible NC Toll Projects. I have a strong feeling that the Brunswick County I-74 proposal is not very high on that list.

Story:
I-74 Study: What's missing are the cars to generate the money ---Brunswick Beacon

For more:
I-74 Segment 18 ---Bob Malme

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