Commuters are opting for a high-tech billing solution at a much faster rate than expected as they use the new Triangle Parkway toll road to sidestep often traffic-clogged routes into RTP.

Drivers have taken more than 106,000 trips in the Triangle Parkway since the state began collecting tolls on the highway four weeks ago, North Carolina Turnpike Authority officials said Monday.

The trips on the 3.5-mile road, which links Interstate 40 and N.C. Highway 147 in Durham County and N.C. Highway 540 in Wake County, had racked up $46,739 in tolls through Sunday, officials said.

Most drivers are using the toll road without an NC QuickPass transponder, which automatically deducts the toll from a driver’s account.

Fifty-four percent of the trips are in vehicles where drivers are relying on overhead cameras to snap photos of their license plates. The Turnpike Authority then bills the vehicle owners monthly by mail.

Through Friday, more than 11,000 bills had been mailed.

The Turnpike Authority has sold about 13,700 transponders so far, far above the 2,700 the Turnpike Authority expected to sell by June, officials said.

The cost of the Triangle Parkway trip is 30 to 50 cents with a QuickPass and 45 to 77 cents without. By the time the entire Triangle Expressway opens in late 2012, the tolls will average 15 cents a mile with a transponder and about 24 cents a mile without.

A handful of people have already disputed toll charges, said Dane Berglund, customer service director for the Turnpike Authority. They claimed either that they were lost and didn’t realize they were on a toll road or that they were never on the Triangle Parkway, he said.

Berglund said the cameras don’t lie, and no one has been excused from paying the tolls so far.

Drivers who fail to pay the toll after two weeks could face additional fees and penalties, including having a hold placed on a vehicle’s annual registration.

Reporter: Bruce Mildwurf
Web Editor: Matthew Burns

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