NCDOT considering tolls for I-95; public feedback encouraged

Posted February 7, 2012 4:30 a.m. EST
Updated February 7, 2012 6:35 a.m. EST

— A trip on Interstate 95 could become more expensive in the future. The North Carolina Department of Transportation is considering adding tolls along the highway, every 20 miles. Beginning Tuesday, the DOT is holding seven hearings, seeking the public's input.

The hearings will be held in Lumberton, Weldon, Rocky Mount, Smithfield, Wilson, Dunn and Fayetteville.

Leaders in Halifax County got a chance to talk with the DOT before the hearings and said drivers there are concerned about possible tolls.

“It’s going to put a real hurt on these people,” said Halifax County commissioner Rives Manning.

DOT engineers say I-95 needs to be improved because it doesn't meet interstate safety standards. A toll is necessary to make those improvements, according to the DOT.

“We want people to keep in mind that a modern and well-maintained highway system benefits everyone,” said NCDOT project manager Kristine O’Connor.

Under the proposed plan, tolling would begin on all of I-95 in North Carolina in 2019. The individual tolls will vary, but, on average, should be around $2. Historically, states have not been allowed to toll existing roads. North Carolina is applying for an exception to that rule. It needs federal approval to do so.

Halifax County business leaders say their companies use I-95 every day, and they’re concerned about the economic impact tolls could have on the county.

“Kapstone and many other businesses use 95 as a major means of access to get raw materials, and the materials that we need to run our operations, into our facilities, and then, of course, to get our finished goods out to market,” said Kapstone Vice President Anitra Collins.

O’Connor says she understands that an important part of a successful study is getting public feedback, and she encourages people to come to the meetings.