Congressman G. K. Butterfield (NC-01) has introduced H.R. 5713, the Talk Before You Toll Act of 2012, which would ensure that the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) fully consider public opposition to tolling of Interstate 95 in North Carolina. The bill would require the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and FHWA to make public opinion the top criteria before implementing tolls. Under the bill, the FHWA would also be required to hold public meetings and collect public comments on the final tolling application submitted by the state.
"I share the concerns of many people in eastern North Carolina that tolling I-95 would be too great of a burden on working families," said Butterfield. "This legislation is a critical step toward ensuring the voices of eastern North Carolinians are heard before the state makes a unilateral decision to toll I-95."
In February, the NCDOT received conditional approval to toll I-95 from FHWA under the Interstate System Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Pilot Program (ISRRPP). To receive final approval, NCDOT must complete an Economic Impact Study and an environmental review. While the NCDOT's plan has not been finalized, it proposed tolls of at least 6 cents per mile, which would cost $19 for people traveling I-95 through the state. The NCDOT is not required to submit a final application and may decide against tolling.
Last week, Butterfield met with the "No Tolls on Interstate 95 Coalition" group about their opposition to the proposed tolling of I-95. During that meeting, Butterfield briefed attendees on his conversations in April with the NCDOT Secretary Gene Conti and with FHWA Administrator Victor Mendez.
North Carolina Congressmen Melvin Watt and Larry Kissell have joined Butterfield by co-sponsoring H.R. 5713. Butterfield also announced his co-sponsorship of H.R. 4147, No Tolls in North Carolina Act of 2012, introduced by Congresswoman Renee Ellmers (NC-02).