Feds give NC initial OK to charge tolls on I-95

Posted February 17, 2012 4:32 p.m. EST
Updated February 17, 2012 5:42 p.m. EST

— The Federal Highway Administration has given North Carolina conditional approval to begin collecting tolls along Interstate 95 to pay for improvements to the highway.

North Carolina is one of three states to participate in a pilot project allowing tolling on existing interstates. The states still need to complete standard highway environmental and permitting processes and submit a tolling plan to the federal government that includes pricing and a schedule of improvements along their interstates.

"NCDOT has taken a data-driven and conscientious approach to the repair, enhancement and expansion of I-95,” Transportation Secretary Gene Conti said in a statement. “We are pleased to be moving forward in securing new funding to help us make I-95 a 21st century interstate.”

The state Department of Transportation 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.

The DOT is now holding public hearings to gather public input on the study.