Local News

N.C. Toll Plazas Could Be Down Road For I-95 Travelers

Posted November 5, 2003

— State transportation officials said they need to start charging drivers who use Interstate 95, one of the most heavily traveled interstates on the East Coast.

Officials want to install six toll plazas along the interstate in North Carolina. Officials propose to charge $3 at each plaza, which means it could cost $18 to travel in North Carolina on I-95 from the Virginia border to South Carolina.

"I think it's a reasonable request," said state Transportation Secretary Lyndo Tippett.

Tippett said he has asked the federal government for permission to put tolls on I-95. The plan would cost billions to widen and repair I-95.

The secretary said it is time to get people who drive the interstate to pay the way.

"Let's let other communities in North Carolina pay for their own projects using our existing revenues. Then, let's let the users of Inetrstate 95 participate a bit more in making all these improvements," Tippett said.

Department of Transportation

officials said the proposal must pass through the General Assembly before it is passed, and they said the proposal could take up to 10 years to implement. Officials said more lanes need to be added to I-95.

"I think it is one of the few alternatives available," Tippett said. "Obviously, I-95 being one of the heavily traveled interstates has reached its maximum capacity in some areas -- over 50,000 cars a day. Those areas do need four lanes or adding four lanes to it in the worst sort of way."

While the DOT is behind the idea, many who travel the interstate are not.

"Everybody does it, but if they're going to be nailed for $18 every time they run through this state, there are other roads around this state and the tolls are going to hurt the economy," driver Craig Lombard said.

A decision on toll roads will likely come in the next legislative session.

In an Elon Poll conducted last week, 40 percent of North Carolinians supported tolls, while 44 percent opposed them. With a margin of error of four percent, that makes the toll poll statistically even.

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