State News

NC DOT hears from public on I-95 expansion, tolls

Posted May 13, 2013

— North Carolina's Department of Transportation is looking to collect more ideas on ways to pay to upgrade Interstate 95, including hearing about the possible cost to businesses of charging tolls.

The DOT held the first of four public hearings Monday in Smithfield. Others are scheduled for Tuesday in Wilson and next week in Lumberton and Weldon.

The state says nearly $4.5 billion in upgrades are needed along the entire 182 miles of I-95 from Virginia to South Carolina. The proposals include widening parts of the interstate, raising and rebuilding bridges, and repairing pavement to bring the roadway up to current interstate design standards.

An economic assessment that the DOT released Monday found that there's only $455 million in existing and anticipated funding – about 10 percent of what it would cost to make the improvements – and that tolling is the most feasible financing option.

Roberto Canales, the DOT's coordinator of strategic initiatives, says counties along I-95 would benefit the most from improvements.

"You can improve safety, you can improve travel efficiency and you can plan ahead for economic welfare and growth because a good-running road is more attractive to industry," he said.

But what state leaders see as an economic benefit, store owners say tolls would hurt business

Tolling I-95, they say, would put the greatest economic burden on them.

Ernie Brame, who owns Kenly 95 Petro, says he sees no advantages.

"My company has invested tens of millions dollars in our property to grow our business based upon a business model of a free and unencumbered interstate," he said.

In March, North Carolina Transportation Secretary Tony Tata said tolling roads couldn't be ruled out as a way to help pay for future transportation projects, but he wouldn't say whether tolling I-95 should be an option.

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  • markjb33 May 16, 2013

    Toll it.....I don't have to travel on it.
    Obamacare survive
    ------------------------------------------
    Oh ok, as long as it doesn't effect you.
    Do you really think if the get away tolling 95 that they will stop there?
    40 and 85 and 77 etc will be next

  • markjb33 May 16, 2013

    I didn't think they could toll existing roads? If that is the case, then they need to toll all of 540. Why do "some" people get to live and use the road for free while others have pay? Either toll the whole thing or forget about it. I'm in the leave it free camp myself when it comes to 540.
    dwntwnboy2
    --------------------------------------------------------
    They certainly DO take free roads to make toll roads. 540 W to 55 was free, now it stops at 54. Also TW Alexander was free, no longer.
    I came here from CT, and while I was growing up there well toll booths all over I-95 in that state. It took the Gov't YEARS of running a surplus to finally take them down. The moral: Once tolling begins it is very, very difficult to stop.
    NO TO TOLLS

  • buckskin022 May 15, 2013

    Why do they need to raise the bridges again, they just did they within the last 5 years! I have no choice but to use 95 to get to and from work, why should I have to pay more on top of the costs that I already pay?

  • DrJ May 15, 2013

    I'm sick and tired of hearing that we need more money for roads, when we never seem to lack for money to pay for our lawmakers' pork projects in their local districts. It costs a fortune to build these places, many of which are nothing more than local money grabs, and two fortunes to maintain and staff them: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_museums_in_North_Carolina

  • Krimson May 15, 2013

    AffDiv: "WHY should I have to bear the added burden of paying tolls for the only interstate I'm likely to use"

    Wait, you're complaining that you'll have to pay to use a road that you admit using??? Don't like the toll, don't drive on I-95!

    Why should I have to help you pay for your precious highway??? I rarely use I-95... Why am I being taxed to fix something that hardly benefits me but seemingly benefits you greatly???

    See how that sword cuts both ways???

  • dwntwnboy2 May 15, 2013

    I didn't think they could toll existing roads? If that is the case, then they need to toll all of 540. Why do "some" people get to live and use the road for free while others have pay? Either toll the whole thing or forget about it. I'm in the leave it free camp myself when it comes to 540.

  • dirtydozen431 May 14, 2013

    The Highway Patrol is losing some of its communication centers so response time to accidents will be extended.

  • affirmativediversity May 14, 2013

    As someone who lives closer to I-95 than any other interstate I'd like to go on record as saying...STUFF YOUR TOLLS!!!!

    I don't get a discount on my vehicle tax or my gas tax or various and numerous other taxes that are all suppose to go towards roads...so WHY should I have to bear the added burden of paying tolls for the only interstate I'm likely to use?

    I haven't heard even a peep about tolls for I-40 or I-85 or I-74...but billions have been spent, or will be spent, upgrading and expanding those roads...

  • cjw6105 May 14, 2013

    The need for more money is simply a commitment to keep spending more and more.

  • baldchip May 14, 2013

    Rebuilding I-95 is a huge job-no doubt. It is an absolute budget nightmare. Billions of dollars would be needed to complete that project.

    Tolls would make tourists & snowbirds help pay for the work. I would like to see our Highway Patrol be more aggressive on enforcement of speed laws on I-95. Speed limit means nothing on I-95-and we could use the money.

    I have an idea to save residents from so much tolling. Put 3 booths up-state line each way and 1 near the middle-say below Smithfield or Benson. Half way is mm 91 just below Smithfield.
    Some NC residents would have to pay some tolls-but this every 30 mile stuff being proposed is rediculous!! Locals get creamed that way.

    Tolls on I-95 are imminent. Let's figure out how to make them work best for NC residents where we pay the least and out of staters pay the most.

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