RALEIGH — The North Carolina Department of Transportation is offering an on-line survey to get input from state residents about possible funding options to pay for improvements to Interstate 95.
Last year the idea of tolls on I-95 was floated as a way to pay the state’s share of $4.4 billion of work on the major highway, including additional lanes. The state is obligated to pay 10 percent — $440 million — of the cost the work, which would be done in phases over the next decade.
The survey is available at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NCDOTTravel Survey. Responses will be accepted through March 22.
The possibility of tolling received a cool response in Robeson County, being opposed by some municipal boards, seven Lumberton City Council members, the Lumberton Tourism Development Authority, U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre and others. They worry that tolls will hurt economic development efforts, making it more difficult to recruit industries that depend on trucking. Additionally, they say, tolls would push local motorists onto secondary roads, making them crowded and more dangerous.
Using tolls to pay for widening and making improvements to the 182 miles of I-95 that run through North Carolina from South Carolina to Virginia was recommended in a state-commissioned study — the I-95 Corridor Planning and Finance Study. The study proposes two toll sites in Robeson County — at mile-marker 12 near U.S. 74, and between mile-markers 28 and 31 at St. Pauls. Overall there would be nine sites located along North Carolina’s section of I-95.
Local officials have asked why the state’s gasoline tax, one of the highest in the country, could not be used as a funding source for the upgrades to I-95.
The economic assessment examines what the economic impacts there would be to upgrade and expand I-95. It also examines the economic impact of not making any significant improvements to the interstate outside of what can be done with existing funding.