How Much Faster is the Monroe Expressway? We Put it to the Test.

UNION CO., N.C.  -The first toll road in the Charlotte area is open. The Monroe Expressway is supposed to get drivers around the stop-and-go traffic on U.S. 74 in Union County.

“It’s amazing how fast you go. For 65 miles per hour, I mean, it’s just a breeze,” says Union Co. resident Joe Sproule.

Sproule never thought he’d pay a toll in North Carolina. But he admits he was impressed with his first experience on the Monroe Expressway.

“I work in Charlotte and so I’m going to be using this quite a bit,” he says.

The 18-mile toll road runs from Stallings to Marshville, with eight exits along the way.

NCDOT says taking it means you’ll avoid two dozen stoplights on busy U.S. 74.

Photojournalist Corey Epps and Reporter Marvin Beach put it to the test as rush hour got underway.

Corey took the expressway and Marvin went the usual route. Both left at 4:25pm.

20 mintues later, Corey had already reached the end of the toll road, but Marvin was still stuck in traffic in Monroe.

Marvin arrived in Marshville 15 minutes later than Corey at 5:00pm.

Transportation leaders anticipate 25,000 people might use the toll road in the first year.

“If you’re moving around the towns you’ll see some improvement. But this is really an option to allow you to move through the county faster,” says North Carolina Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon.

It will cost you $2.54 to drive the entire 18 miles with an NC Quick Pass.

And while many still aren’t happy about paying tolls, people we talked with exiting the toll lanes Tuesday night liked what they saw.

“A lot of money to spend per day, but yeah, saving me 30 minutes, I get to go home and cook supper, you know, be early,” says Wingate resident Samantha Jordan.