The opening of the final stretch of I-485 in Charlotte, N.C., may be that last large-scale highway program in the city that does not include toll lanes.
Due to the lack of funding and the precarious future of the Highway Trust Fund, the North Carolina Department of Transportation is utilizing toll roads more and more.
Toll roads and toll lanes are receiving growing support from conservatives and liberals alike. Conservatives view them as a free-market approach to building infrastructure.
Liberal politicians have also expressed support for toll lanes, saying that adding new highway capacity is not a solution to congestion.
“For 40 years, I have seen a growing metropolitan area,” said Bill Coxe, a transportation planner for the town of Huntersville, N.C.
“I have observed that adding additional unmanaged capacity gets consumed. Then you add more, and that gets consumed. You aren’t wealthy enough as a society to continue that same model from a financial standpoint.”
Lack of federal funding continues to be the main push for state toll lanes. The federal gas tax, which has helped pay for North Carolina highway projects, has not increased since 1993.
Meanwhile, people are driving less and driving more fuel-efficient cars, making the implementation of toll lanes a more viable option.