Southwest Wake: Opinion

Heald: Can the state afford the NC Turnpike Authority?

Objecting to TriEx toll rate increasing

Why did TriEx toll rates rise 5 percent? The N.C. Turnpike Authority’s last annual report may give some hints. The authority is operating at a loss of $11.2 million, according to 2013 figures. To make this situation worse, the long-term debt is more than $1.1 billion. The interest on indebtedness for 2013 was almost $65 million.

I don’t expect 2014 to be significantly different. Looking at the figures I cannot understand how North Carolina taxpayers can benefit from the North Carolina Turnpike Authority.

Yes, we have one new highway to allow some local drivers access to RTP and a proposed Monroe Connector Bypass near Charlotte. What would a non-toll road cost without paying for the NCTA for all these years?

The authority’s largest operating expense was for contracted personnel services at more than $9.9 million, which are services that the NCTA staff must not be able to provide. What are we paying the staff for? How many individuals are employed by the NCTA, and what is their expertise? (They seem to need more MBAs.)

The NCTA appears to be a buy-now, pay-later scheme devised by someone who drained the state transportation fund and needed to fund new highways. We need to analyze the NCTA and determine if it is a benefit to the state taxpayer or a highway sinkhole for more taxpayer dollars. Can the state of North Carolina afford the NCTA?

Jim Heald