North Carolina toll project faces bipartisan opposition

State lawmakers concerned about economic, traffic impacts

June 04, 2012

A proposed toll on North Carolina’s I-95, meant to fund a $4.4 billion widening of the highway, is facing heavy opposition from Democratic and Republican lawmakers who are concerned about the toll’s effect on local traffic and the economy.

Under the proposal by the North Carolina Department of Transportation, electronic toll booths would be installed every 20 miles on I-95. As a result, the majority of toll funds would come from long-distance and out-of-state drivers.

The final widening project would call for improvements all along the 182-mile north-south highway. Bridges and interchanges would be upgraded along the entire stretch, while both sides would be expanded from four lanes to eight south of the I-40 exchange, the busiest section of I-95.

State lawmakers have introduced a number of measures to counter the new toll collection. One would require an economic study on the impacts of electronic tolling on residents and businesses in eastern North Carolina. Another would examine the effect on nearby U.S. 301, which many suspect would be overburdened by motorists avoiding the toll.

NCDOT is already undertaking its own economic study, which it says will conclude by next March.