• Monroe Expressway, Charlotte area's first toll road, now open

    By: Kristin Leigh , Gina Esposito

    Updated:

    UNION COUNTY, N.C. - The Monroe Expressway, which is the Charlotte area's first toll road, opened Tuesday.

    [ALSO READ: Monroe Expressway set to open next month]

    Although the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of the expressway was at 10 a.m., officials said drivers should have a backup plan in place since drivers won't actually be able to use it until the afternoon.

    Toll officials said there may still be barricades in place along part of the route and that drivers need to be patient and wait until those are removed before using the expressway.

    The toll lanes will start near Interstate 485 in Stallings and run to Marshville, allowing drivers to skip a portion of Highway 74.

    North Carolina Department of Transportation Secretary James Trogdon said, "We're proud to deliver it, not just to this region, but to this community, especially Union County." 

    For drivers who use U.S. 74, the bypass will shave about 20 minutes off driving the full stretch.

    The expressway is the Charlotte area's first toll road, which means it will cost drivers money to use it.

    The technology scans a vehicle for a license plate or a NC Quick Pass.

    If a license plate is read, the driver will be mailed a bill and if a pass is scanned, money will be automatically deducted from the driver's prepaid account.

    Officials said the pass is the most recommended and cost effective way to use the expressway.

    Drivers with the pass can be charged between 19 cents to $2.54 for a one-way trip.

    Without one, a driver could be billed up to $3.92 by mail. 

    Drivers can apply for the free NC Quick Pass sticker online or go to the office in Monroe to pick it up.

    Officials told Channel 9's Gina Esposito more than 100 people visited the Quick Pass office in Monroe Monday to pick up passes.

    Apply for a NC Quick Pass online here.

    Driver Shelley Smith said she got a pass for her husband's weekly commute from their home in Indian Trail to Matthews. She told Channel 9 that although he will only be on the bypass for two exits, it will still save him time. 

    "Actually last week it took him 50 minutes to get to work because they had a lane shut down or something. He's just tired of it," said Smith. 

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