Ellmers trying to block I-95 tolls

Posted March 9, 2012 12:21 p.m. EST
Updated March 10, 2012 8:55 a.m. EST

— Second District Congresswoman Renee Ellmers is fighting a plan that would allow North Carolina to collect tolls on Interstate 95.

The Federal Highway Administration gave the state Department of Transportation preliminary permission last month to pursue tolling on the interstate to help pay for highway improvements.

Ellmers has introduced a bill in Congress that would prohibit tolls on I-95, saying that the DOT hasn't demonstrated that improvements couldn't be implemented without a toll, as required by law.

North Carolina drivers shouldn't have to bear the burden of a toll in addition to paying one of the highest gas taxes in the country, she said.

Many people who have attended public hearings about the I-95 tolling plan have asked that the state find other ways to fund road improvements, but DOT officials say the state has to maintain more roads with shrinking revenue from the gas tax.

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.

A 2009 study commissioned by the DOT said that driving all 182 miles of I-95 in North Carolina would cost about $19.20 in tolls.

DOT officials said they are considering a decreased tolling rate for frequent users, such as people who commute to work on I-95.