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Tata: Tolling can't be ruled out to pay for NC road projects

Posted March 21, 2013

— North Carolina Transportation Secretary Tony Tata says toll roads can't be ruled out as an way to help pay for future transportation projects.

"You have to talk about tolling as an option across the state as we look at how we're going to generate funds for future projects," Tata told area business leaders Thursday morning at an annual breakfast meeting of the Regional Transportation Alliance.

Tata said the transportation department faces significant funding challenges as the state gas tax, a major source of funding, is bringing in less revenue each year.

Although more people are driving in North Carolina, they are driving more fuel-efficient vehicles, including hybrid and electric cars. Drivers living near state borders also cross state lines to avoid paying North Carolina's gas tax, one of the highest in the Southeast.

Meanwhile, Tata said, the need for projects is growing, and their costs are rising.

"It's not to say we're going to do tolling," Tata said, "but it's got to be an option on the menu of how you fund projects."

One project that tolling could help pay for is a $6 billion overhaul to bring up to current safety standards the 182-mile stretch of Interstate 95 from South Carolina to Virginia. A January 2012 state-commissioned study found that the state would be able to fund only about 10 percent of the project without it.

Some lawmakers have opposed tolling I-95, concerned about how it could affect local residents around the highway and affect business recruitment and retention in the state.

Tony Tata Tata lays out priorities for DOT

Tata wouldn't say whether he thinks tolling I-95 should be an option or say what other ways could help bring in revenue for the state.

"We're looking at potential solutions," he said. "We're looking at a variety of things, but right now, it would be premature to talk about them until we have a solid position."

Tata, who was appointed transportation secretary in January, also laid out other priorities for the department, including improving customer service, especially in the Division of Motor Vehicles.

The DMV has already extended its hours during the week and weekends at several locations. Tata said more locations are expected to extend hours in the coming months.

"The overriding goal is that we don't want anyone to have to take off from work or school to go and do their DMV business," he said.

Tata said he also wants to create a 25-year infrastructure plan to improve safety, reduce congestion and increase economic competitiveness.

The plan would take into account North Carolina's rail lines, airports, highways, waterways and ports to create a cohesive state transportation system, Tata said.

110 Comments

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  • brassy Mar 25, 12:39 p.m.

    Remind me again what my tax dollars pay for?

  • babyblue1981 Mar 22, 7:45 p.m.

    "Federal benefits are funded by the feds. WE DO NOT PAY FOR THEM from state money. So we didn't borrow to pay them." - junkmail5

    Um...the last time I checked the FEDERAL Government makes NOTHING Of VALUE, they get their money from Citizens who live in States. Every dollar the Federal government STEALS, is less money that could be spent & should be spent in your local economy. So yes the States do pay...

  • junkmail5 Mar 22, 6:54 p.m.

    We didn't have the money to pay NC unemployment benefits because the democrats cut the taxes three times when times were good - we came up short - they bought votes for a while.

    don't let the facts or the truth deter you from your mission!
    Nanc

    Uh, what?

    THOSE ARE THE FACTS I HAVE BEEN TELLING YOU.

    We borrowed to cover STATE unemployment.

    The normal 26 weeks.

    NOT extended.

    Not a single word in your quotes says we borrowed for EXTENDED benefits.

    In your huffington post it discussed the FEDERAL benefits that we did NOT borrow money for.

    They are TWO DIFFERENT PROGRAMS.

    Federal benefits are funded by the feds. WE DO NOT PAY FOR THEM from state money. So we didn't borrow to pay them.

    Why do you keep lying about these being the same thing?

  • Nancy Mar 22, 6:49 p.m.

    junkmail if you wish, you can read the whole article on Huffington Post but here's a little snippet that might upset you

    "The benefits lapsed because the state lost eligibility for the federal Extended Benefits program, which gives 20 weeks of benefits for long-term jobless who exhaust 79 weeks of combined state and federal benefits. The state lost its eligibility because its political leaders couldn't agree on a bill to realign its eligibility "trigger" with a new federal standard, implemented to allow states to keep the Extended Benefits program, that took effect in December."

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/03/bev-perdue-unemployment-benefits_n_871030.html

  • Nancy Mar 22, 6:46 p.m.

    junkmail, you just can't accept that Bev ran to the feds for borrowed money that we have to pay back to extend unemployment. We owe the feds, Bev made the deal to borrow the money.
    Here is where I got her quote: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/03/bev-perdue-unemployment-benefits_n_871030.html

    And from the same WRAL link posted previously is this

    "About 30 states borrowed money to cover their unemployment benefits, but North Carolina's bill is among the largest. The state must repay millions of dollars in interest on the loans by Sept. 30."

    We didn't have the money to pay NC unemployment benefits because the democrats cut the taxes three times when times were good - we came up short - they bought votes for a while.

    don't let the facts or the truth deter you from your mission!

  • junkmail5 Mar 22, 6:30 p.m.

    NC has one of the highest gas taxes in America so the highways should be paved in gold!
    meeper

    #8 actually. We also have a lot of roads... more than most states do.

  • meeper Mar 22, 6:17 p.m.

    It's not tolls it's taxes. Tata needs to be truthful. It's another way to confiscate our wealth while calling it something else.
    NC has one of the highest gas taxes in America so the highways should be paved in gold!

  • remer54 Mar 22, 6:09 p.m.

    Its funny I have lived here all of my life and the roads have steadily gotten worse. To many state DMV employees and too high of salaries up the ladder. To much retirement money to them also. If not then why dont we have the money to take care of the roads.

  • junkmail5 Mar 22, 5:54 p.m.

    Just to illustrate you're lying:

    Where the purdue quote comes from:

    http://www.wral.com/news/state/nccapitol/story/9680520/

    "federally funded benefits"

    Not state funded, federally funded.

    Now, the other story your last quote is from:

    http://www.wral.com/news/state/nccapitol/story/9154961/

    "The state Employment Security Commission had to borrow money from the U.S. Labor Department on several occasions to keep benefits checks flowing during the worst recession in decades"

    The STATE borrowed... to keep paying STATE benefits. The normal 26 weeks.

    The two are not related.

    If you're going to make things up that aren't true you'll need to be a little sneakier next time.

  • junkmail5 Mar 22, 5:47 p.m.

    Perdue continued: "Today, I am issuing an executive order extending federal unemployment benefits "

    and then,

    "Raleigh, N.C. — The state owes the federal government almost $2.6 billion for jobless benefits paid over the past two years to unemployed North Carolina
    Nancy

    Why do you keep lying?

    Those are two UNRELATED statements.

    The executive order was because the GOP had blocked a routine bill, and a side-effect was cutting off the federal benefits. An attempt to hold unemployment benefits they weren't even PAYING for hostage to get the GOP budget past a veto

    BENEFITS THAT THE STATE DOES NOT PAY FOR.

    the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 requires 100% FEDERAL funding of extended benefits.

    Federal, not state.

    The money borrowed from 09 to 12 was to pay STATE benefits. The normal 26 weeks. Because we'd under-taxed businesses so long we didn't have enough reserve money.

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