I-95 improvements could take 80 years without tolls

Posted October 18, 2012
Updated October 19, 2012

— Road improvements needed to bring up to current safety standards the 182-mile stretch of Interstate 95 that runs through North Carolina could take up to four times longer to make without tolls, according to an official with the state Department of Public Transportation.

Interstate 95, I-95 I-95 improvements could take decades without tolls

"Right now, we don't have options to do the improvements in a timely fashion," Roberto Canales, the DOT's coordinator of strategic initiatives, said Thursday on the possibility of a proposed tolling project being scrapped.

In Tuesday's gubernatorial debate, both Republican candidate Pat McCrory and his Democratic challenger, Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, said they don't fully support I-95 tolls and think that the state should look elsewhere for funding.

The interstate has gone more than 50 years without major improvements, and a state-commissioned study in January recommended tolling the roadway to help pay for nearly $4.5 billion in improvements.

Those include raising bridges, rebuilding others, improving interchanges and widening the highway.

"We're talking about totally reconstructing this interstate," Canales said. "This interstate has gone well beyond its life expectancy."

Paying for the project is four times more than the DOT's annual construction budget, he said.

With tolling, he added, it would take about 20 years to complete.

"Under the current funding, if you project out, I think we ended up looking at 70-80 years to actually do the improvements (without tolling)," Canales said.

The DOT is working on an economic impact study, a draft of which is expected in the spring.

Reiterating what the candidates for governor said in Tuesday's debate, Dalton, responding to the question about how to pay for the I-95 project said Thursday: "We send more money to Washington than we get back from Washington. We need to work with our congressional delegation to make sure we get as much back as we possibly can."

McCrory spokesman Ricky Diaz said the former Charlotte mayor "will work with the business community as well as local and state officials to create an action plan, which will focus on maintaining existing infrastructure while prioritizing new projects."


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • eduncan Oct 23, 2012

    This was an irresponsible statement by Roberto Canales not backed up by any facts. It seems the reporter was just a patsy for a trial ballon as well as the editor.

  • mikebeahn Oct 22, 2012

    Tolls are a political crutch, like lotteries!
    Use the funds slated for the Southeast Expressway. And tell Washington to pay for the rest with a 5 cent gas tax increase. You drive more, you pay more.

  • shawnwilliams159 Oct 19, 2012

    What exactly does NC do with all the Gas tax money they collect already? On a gallon of regular unleaded gas, North Carolina drivers pay the standard 18.5 cents in federal tax and 39 cents in state tax.

    All together, North Carolina drivers pay 57.6 cents tax on each gallon of gas.

    Here's how the gas tax rates stack up in other states:

    •Virginia -- 38.2 cents

    •Tennessee -- 39.8 cents

    •Georgia -- 47.8 cents

  • caroexc Oct 19, 2012

    grow up ----- toll it like the jersey turnpike, pay people to man some of the booths, widen the highway without it being obsolete before its done and get on with it for crying out loud

  • 12345_here Oct 19, 2012

    Shows how bad our politicians are at raising funds.
    This road wasn't even built 80 years ago.
    Lies and more lies. All we get out of the politicans and underlings at the DOT

  • dsalter Oct 19, 2012

    So...you want to toll I-95? Fine. Just do it fairly and toll I-77, I-40, I-26 and soon to be I-73 as well.

  • baldchip Oct 19, 2012

    If the road cannot be rebuilt without tolls-fine. Put tolls on the road. But put only 3 stations, one at each end and one somewhere in the middle-where it is not convenient to get on and off the road.

    WE need mostly that Yankee and Florida money to pay for this project. They are the speed demons that tear up the road!!

  • working for deadbeats Oct 19, 2012

    "Where are our tax dollars going?" buzzkiller

    To buy your fellow man a cell phone.

  • Tax Man Oct 19, 2012

    How about charging tolls at all state borders coming into NC on all interstates. Make up for those who buy their gas in other states at much lower prices then drive on our roads without having contributed to our gas taxes.

  • pappy1 Oct 19, 2012

    BuzKiller 777 asks "Where are our tax dollars going?" Answer: Everywhere - except where they should be. Instead of focusing inward and fixing what we have - our politicians are busy pushing "growth" and bringing in more people to an already overburdened infrastructure. The funniest thing about this little tragedy? Drive the I-95 Corridor through N.C., and note how many closed businesses line the route.