Monroe Expressway opens Tuesday, bringing area's first tolls

- The Monroe Expressway is scheduled to open Tuesday afternoon, bringing with it the area's first toll road.

"It'll save time, skipping traffic lights around the corridor," said director of toll operations for the North Carolina Turnpike Authority Andy Lelewski. "Free flow travel...to bypass congestion."

You won't see any toll booths along the nearly 20 mile stretch of highway. That's because the Monroe Expressway will use an electronic toll system, using cameras perched high above, to take photos of your license plate. 

"Customers can expect to receive their bills roughly 30 days after travel," said Lelewski. 

At a cost of more than $700 million, the new highway runs parallel to US-74, south of I-485, stretching from Marshville to Stallings. 

It will cost $3.92 to be billed by mail. If you use a transponder, it will cost $2.54 to drive the entire stretch. That is a cost savings of 35 percent. 

A motorist traveling the entire 18 mile stretch to and from work, five days a week, will pay around $100 a month with a transponder. 

To get a transponder, you'll ned to go to NCQuickpass.com and sign up. Motorists can get a free transponder, which is a sticker, that is compatible with Georgia's Peach Pass and Florida's SunPass. Or, you can pay $7 for a transponder that will work in Georgia, Florida and more than a dozen states that use E-Z Pass. 

If you don't use a transponder, your bill will come in the mail. It's important to keep your address up to date, Lelewski said, in order to avoid paying a fine.

"For customers that have a problem, maybe they've moved, maybe they haven't received that invoice in the mail, we ask them to call our customer service center," said Lelewski. "We'll work with them, look up their address, find out what address they're out, change that and make sure that they're taken care of."

Tolls can be paid by phone.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place Tuesday morning. The highway will officially open to traffic in the afternoon. 

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