Electronic toll collection started Wednesday on the new six-mile leg of the Triangle Expressway from Holly Springs to Apex, so commuters now pay for their trips on the full 18.8-mile length of the six-lane expressway through Research Triangle Park and Western Wake County.
Beginning Thursday morning, some TriEx drivers will pay their tolls with E-ZPass transponders. And they’ll have the option to use N.C. Quick Pass hard-case transponders on E-ZPass toll roads in 14 mostly northeastern states.
Pat Rago of Raleigh makes regular trips to visit relatives in Illinois, so she’ll be able to use her N.C. Quick Pass on toll roads through West Virginia, Indiana and Illinois. That means no more waiting in line to pay cash at the toll booth.
“In West Virginia there are three tolls at two bucks a pop,” Rago said. “It’s much nicer to be able to drive right through and not have to stop.”
Only the $20 hard-case version of the N.C. Quick Pass transponder will be good on toll roads in the northeastern states, under an agreement announced last month between North Carolina and the Delaware-based E-ZPass Group. The $5 windshield sticker Quick Pass works only on TriEx.
Drivers with transponders pay tolls electronically without stopping, with each toll subtracted from a debit account. Cash tolls are the alternative in most other states. In North Carolina, TriEx drivers without transponders receive bills in the mail based on photos of their license plates.
The new transponder agreement enables the N.C. Turnpike Authority to do business with more than 23 million drivers who have E-ZPass transponders issued by toll agencies in states from Virginia to Maine and Illinois.
Later this year, the N.C. Turnpike Authority expects to announce similar transponder arrangements with other toll agencies in southern states from Georgia and Florida to Texas.
The Holly Springs leg of TriEx opened for traffic in December, 13 days before the start of toll collection Wednesday. Western Wake residents and businesses are expected to use TriEx for relief from rush-hour delays on N.C. 55 and other north-south roads.
“I’m hoping it will help bring everybody’s home prices back up,” said Jerry Canterbury, 49, of Holly Springs. “When people find it’s a lot easier to get to RTP, this will be an even more attractive community to live in.”
He works from his home and expects to use the toll road only occasionally, but his wife will use it to drive to work in Durham.
“She was able to drive it once last week, and it saved about 15 minutes on her commute,” Canterbury said. “She plans to use it every day.”
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