DOT collects final public input in Fayetteville on I-95 tolling plan

Posted February 27, 2012

— The state Department of Transportation gave the public one last opportunity Monday to speak out about a plan to collect tolls along Interstate 95 to pay for highway improvements.

About 200 people turned out for the final public meeting about the tolls at a Fayetteville hotel, 10 days after the Federal Highway Administration gave the plan conditional approval. Many asked that the state find other ways to fund road improvements, but the DOT said the sta has to maintain more roads with less money. 

North Carolina, which is one of three states participating in a pilot project allowing tolling on existing interstates, consistently ranks in the top two states for the number of roads it manages. It also ranks near the bottom nationally in dollars spent per mile of highway.

Still, Chuck Fager, of Fayetteville, said he worries that tolls would scare business away from the I-95 corridor.

"It will make this region much less attractive to new businesses and employers," Fager said. "It will be an economic setback to the region."

Fager mapped the alternatives to the highway's path through North Carolina online.

"From border to border, it's three hours," he said. "If you take 301, it would take five hours."

Community speaks out against I-95 tolling plan Community speaks out against I-95 tolling plan

Even if people do choose to take different routes, he said, tolls will still affect everyone.

"Most everything we buy will be coming by truck, and the heavy cost of the tolls will be passed on (to consumers)," Fager said.

Musheerah Ali, of Lumberton, drives on I-95 every day to get to Fayetteville for work and said she doesn't support tolling.

"I really don't like tolls. I don't think it will do us any good at this point," she said. "(For) all the workers that commute on I-95, not just me as an individual, but the bigger picture."

Ali added that other options for funding highway projects should be considered.

"Let's keep weighing all options before we put tolls out there," she said.

But state officials said there aren't other options. The only funding for road improvements currently comes from the gas tax, said DOT spokeswoman Kristine O'Connor.

"What people have to consider is that modern and well-maintained roads benefit all of us," she said. "If we continue to just fix I-95 and not (do) the major improvements that are needed, it's going to get more and more congested.

"It's not going to be a road that people want to ride on anyway, so let's invest in it now."

Still, she said, the feedback meetings were important in helping the DOT answer people's questions and concerns, even if the plan moves forward with or without public support.

One suggestion that has come out of the sessions is a decreased tolling rate for frequent users, such as people who commute to work on I-95.

That's an idea the DOT is considering, O'Connor said.

The DOT commissioned a $6.4 million study in 2009 to determine how to upgrade I-95. The study, which was submitted to state officials last month, found it necessary to raise bridges, rebuild others, improve interchanges, bring the interstate up to current safety standards and widen the highway from beginning to end.

The study recommended tolling the 182-mile stretch of I-95 in North Carolina to pay for the improvements. According to the study, driving the entire length of the interstate in North Carolina would cost drivers about $19.20.


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  • Bob3425 Feb 29, 2012

    'The only funding for road improvements currently comes from the gas tax, said DOT spokeswoman Kristine O'Connor" which they just raised by 4cents per gal. what about all the do over that DOT pay for with contractor that don't do a good job, why not get of them, answer: taxpayer are easier.

  • cutl00senc Feb 29, 2012

    @frosty....yeah....hard to drive through toll booths at 45mph while texting, eating a donut, and putting on makeup...please.
    I just love how people can complain about roads conditions, congestion, etc....but then the solution pops up and they complain about that too....

  • Dogs_Rules Feb 29, 2012

    I guess having 8th highest gasoline tax in the nation still isn't enough to feed the corruption machine known as the NCDOT. How about all you thieves in Raleigh just do with what you have like everyone else. We’re sure if ya’ll return the kickbacks you were given by the construction companies, there would be plenty of money for roads in this state. Or maybe it’s just beyond Bev’s administrative capabilities.

  • frosty Feb 28, 2012

    I have driven on other interstate toll roads and many have had the tolls removed with a huge safety increase not to mention less traffic problems.

    IMHO there should be a special place in hell for those who put tolls on major (if not all) roads.

  • cutl00senc Feb 28, 2012

    I lived in NC most of my life...from 1964 to 2004. After living elsewhere, I know that NC has the best roads and the taxes collected to pay for them are well spent. The roads where I live are like paved wagon trails...and my vehicle repairs never let me forget it. So, pay higher taxes and have better roads, or, pay lower taxes and fix you car a lot...choice is yours...Id prefer better roads.

  • cutl00senc Feb 28, 2012

    Toll all the interstate highways....if you wanna drive on em, you gotta pay for em. Those who dont wanna pay, can drive on the other lovely byways and highways crisscrossing our lovely state and stop and spend some money in those little towns and boost the economy. If the trucks wanna use and abuse the interstate, why should my tax dollars have to pay to fix them?

  • bigal02282 Feb 28, 2012

    There are many, many alternatives to the Interstate system in our state. Imagine this.. folks got along for YEARS without them. I can name 14 routes that will take me from south of Fayetteville to North of Raleigh as fast or faster than I-95 to I-40. The same goes for many routes across the state. But folks THINK they have to use an interstate to go everywhere because the SPEED LIMIT is 65 or 70. That supposedly equates to a faster trip. Uh huh. I take 10 minutes off of my drive to Fayetteville simply by AVOIDING taking I-95 and using other routes. I took Interstates to the mountains all the way on one trip. 5 hours, 15 minutes. I took regular 2 and 4 lane highways through many small towns and total travel time was guess what? 4 hours 40 minutes. Only interstate I used then was 485 around Charlotte. for 23 miles. Hated it. Nothing to see or enjoy on that part of the trip. And here's an idea... Vote with your feet. Find a better state with better roads and lower taxes.

  • tony16 Feb 28, 2012

    I've paid tolls in FL, VA, NY, NJ, NH, PA, MA, & ME ... Do you see a common thread here ? You can drive from VA to SC without stopping to buy gas in North Carolina. Do you think the people from NY, NJ, PA and FLA are paying any gas taxes here to support our Interstate and US highways ?? Not much. I avoid I-95 when possible - It's one of the busiest, most dangerous roads in the eastern half of the US. Give a price break to locals that use I-95 and get on with the improvements. Otherwise, the NC gas tax is going up even more. SIMPLE math, people.

  • SecondChanceMan Feb 28, 2012

    Is it that our gas tax money is possibly being mismanaged or not being spent on our roads? Ya think?
    Vietnam Vet

    That would be an understatement soldier.... BTW... Thank you for your service to our country. It is greatly appreciated!

  • Vietnam Vet Feb 28, 2012

    "Repairs and updates on 95, though badly needed, cause the biggest traffic back-ups imaginable. I actually saw work being done on a weekend in the summer. The traffic crawled for miles. It was ridiculous."

    So we do nothing, because we wouldn't want traffic to be tied up,and we let the cracks and the potholes and resultant wrecks do the slowing instead. Roads do not last forever...