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N.C., S.C. Officials Debate Merits Of Adding Toll Roads On I-95

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Interstate 95 is known as the Main Street of eastern America, but like many main streets across the country, the interstate needs to be revitalized. Now North and South Carolina are both trying to figure out how to pay for the work.

Within 20 years, leaders expect a tight fit for all 182 miles of I-95 in North Carolina. The aging interstate needs to be widened, but the cost could run as high as $3 billion.

"We've got to do something. The question is what, how soon and how do we pay for it," said David King, deputy secretary of transit with the state Department of Transportation.

At the General Assembly's request, the DOT is studying the possibility of a toll on I-95. Beverly Ward, a S.C. resident said she is willing to pay a user fee.

"For safety sake, but then again, once the project is completed, then I think, in fairness, the toll should be taken away," she said.

South Carolina is also considering a toll, but six years ago, S.C. lawmakers put the brakes on the option. However at a meeting of the two states Monday, S.C. leaders said they may "reverse" their way of thinking.

"If I-95 was already tolled coming to South Carolina, that certainly could help make the case with our legislators," said Elizabeth Mabry, executive director of the South Carolina Department of Transportation.

How much the toll would cost and where the booths would be are still being considered. Even though a decision on any toll is still years away, it is not a popular idea with Trucker Vernon Fisher. He already pays $100 in tolls from Florida to Delaware and he said he does not see any return on his money.

"They're not using it on the roads," he said.

Transportation leaders said if they decide on tolls, they will try to sell their plan to truckers from an economical aspect. They said if you consider the cost of the rig, the time value of the cargo and the drivers salary, truckers lose anywhere from $1 to $4.50 a minute during delays.


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