Toll-road bids under review

The N.C. Turnpike Authority opened bids Tuesday from contractors for work this fall on the state's first modern toll road through Research Triangle Park and western Wake County.

The agency is expected to award the two contracts to design and build the Triangle Expressway later this month.

The work would start after October when the turnpike authority sells $625million in revenue bonds to finance the construction and operation of the toll road.

Gaston and Union counties have also been in the running for toll roads.

The Triangle Expressway bids were about $61 million less than what the turnpike authority had expected to pay.

“These are very strong teams, and they have the commitment to meet our aggressive schedule and help these two important roads become reality,” said Steve DeWitt, the turnpike authority's chief engineer.

A trio of firms calling itself Raleigh Durham Roadbuilders had the apparent low bid of $446.4million to design and build a 12.6-mile section known as the Western Wake Expressway.

The team includes Atlanta-based Archer Western Contractors, Granite Construction, based in Watsonville, Calif., and LPA Group, based in Columbia.

Wilson-based S.T. Wooten had the apparent low bid of $137.4million to build the 3.4-mile Triangle Parkway through RTP.

The two roads will be joined with a stretch of the existing N.C. 540 expressway in western Wake to form the 18.8-mile Triangle Expressway, extending south through RTP to Holly Springs.

Construction is expected to start in November, with traffic flowing on the Triangle Parkway by the end of 2010.