North Carolina won permission from the Federal Highway Administration on Friday to collect tolls on Interstate 95 to pay for a $4.4 billion widening project.
The state Department of Transportation is floating a plan to overhaul all 182 miles of the four-lane interstate between the South Carolina and Virginia borders. The 50 busiest miles would be widened to eight lanes, and the rest would be six lanes.
To pay for it, DOT wants to collect tolls from drivers on I-95, which was built with tax dollars. The proposed electronic tolling network is designed to let many North Carolina travelers continue making short local trips on I-95 without paying tolls. It would make it difficult, but not impossible, for truckers and vacationers who travel longer distances to use I-95 without paying the toll. (See an interactive map here.
As a result, truckers (25 percent of all I-95 traffic) and out-of-state cars and trucks (55 percent) could actually end up paying more than their share of the tolls.
When tolling starts in 2019, a car driving all the way between South Carolina and Virginia probably would be tolled $19.20, DOT says. Tolls for heavy trucks would be higher.
DOT engineers are speaking with residents at informal public hearings this month in communities along Interstate 95. Maps and other information will be provided about toll collection and planned construction, which would start in 2016. The meetings are scheduled from 4 to 7 p.m.
Monday: Johnston Community College (Tart Building/Paul A. Johnston Auditorium Lobby), 245 College Road, Smithfield
Tuesday: Bill Ellis Convention Center, 2904 Forrest Hills Road, Wilson
Thursday: Dunn Community Center, 205 Jackson Road, Dunn
Monday, Feb. 27: Double Tree by Hilton Hotel (Grand Ballroom), 1965 Cedar Creek Road, Fayetteville
The hearings will explain recommendations in the I-95 Corridor Planning and Finance Study Environmental Assessment published in January. The report is available at www.driving95.com.
For questions or comments, contact Kristine O'Connor at 919-707-6034 or firstname.lastname@example.org.