I-95 Is Aging, Not Always Gracefully

Posted December 21, 2006 7:15 p.m. EST

More than 1.6 million North Carolinians are expected to drive more than 50 miles from home this holiday season—a record high. Many of them could easily be among the 80,000 cars that drive Interstate 95 in North Carolina every day.

Those drivers are sharing a highway that was built more than 50 years ago. Many people say I-95 needs to grow with the traffic.

Crews started carving the path for I-95 in North Carolina in the late '50s. It stretches 181 miles in the state and has 50 percent more accidents than other interstate roads in the state, according to state statistics.

Four Oaks Mayor Linwood Parker says he saw it from the start.

“I can remember when the road was built. I remember riding my bicycle out there to see them building it,” Parker says.

What he saw is in many instances what is still here. Other states have upgraded their sections of I-95, but the highway through the Tar Heel state hasn't had an overhaul since the Eisenhower administration.

“It needs to be maintained. It needs to be widened. It needs to be upgraded, and our leaders in Raleigh, for whatever reason, have abandoned it,” the mayor says.

Harvey Brown is a driver who uses the highway.

“I-95 can always use some help. Being a North Carolinian, I got to say that. We always could use the help,” Brown says.

Help is a big-ticket item, however.

The state Department of Transportation’s chief financial officer says it would take 75 years and $4 billion to add one lane in each direction from the South Carolina line to Virginia.

State engineers say turning 95 into a toll road could pay for an upgrade.