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Want more toll roads? - NCTA begins planning stage for Southern Wake Expressway

The North Carolina Turnpike Authority is just entering the planning stages for the last 30 miles of the Raleigh Outer Loop (NC 540/I-540). The last 30 miles consists of 'two' freeways - the Southern Wake Expressway and the Eastern Wake Expressway.

Story in the Raleigh News & Observer.

The Southern Wake would run from NC 55 in Holly Springs eastwards to I-40 in Garner (most likely near or at where the US 70 Clayton Bypass begins). The Eastern Wake runs from I-40 in Garner northwards to where I-540 currently ends at US 264 in Knightdale.

Don't worry - there's a lot to be done - any decision on what parts of the road to build first, how and where it will end up going won't be decided until 2011.

Currently, the highway is in the planning stages and the NCTA is looking at it as a possible future toll road project. The NCTA will need to decide if it is a viable toll road, in addition to getting approval to toll the highway from the state legislature.

There has been no right of way reserved for either highway so a specific route has yet to be determined. The most curious part will be the decision on where the roads would intersect with I-40 near Garner. Will it meet I-40 at Exit 309, which is where the Clayton Bypass begins/ends? That would be one interesting interchange.

Plus, will anyone want to pay tolls? If the road isn't tolled - we may not see either road built for decades. The success or lack their of on the under construction Triangle Expressway and other proposed toll projects will certainly influence the public and the state legislature that will ultimately approve any tolls on this highway.

And finally, and admittedly cynically, if in 2011 this highway is approved - and construction begins in and around 2012 or 2013 - can you imagine the cries of 'FOUL' by those in Charlotte, who would see Raleigh's entire loop construction begin and end within the time it took to complete their outer loop? I'd be willing to put good money on saying they certainly would.

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