by Michael Lowrey
The Monroe Expressway is expected to bring in significantly less toll revenue than the state previously projected, raising questions about the financial viability of the 20-mile toll highway under construction through Union County.
In 2010, the consultant Wilbur Smith Associates projected the $731 million highway would generate $3.15 billion in tolls over 40 years.
Earlier this month, a new projection by the consultant CDM Smith called for much less money – $2 billion by 2058.
Perhaps the biggest factor in the drop in projected toll revenue is that local planners expect fewer people will live in Union County. Seven years ago, the local transportation planning organization forecast nearly 119,000 households in Union County by 2030. The latest projection, from 2014, forecasts a little more than 100,000 households.
In addition, those new Union County residents are expected to live closer to Charlotte, rather than in the eastern part of the county. People living closer to the Mecklenburg County line would be less dependent on the expressway.