I was pleased to learn this week that the North Carolina Department of Transportation has changed course and is now taking the responsible step of analyzing the economic impact and burdens a toll on I-95 would have on our communities.
This week, N.C. Secretary of Transportation Gene Conti announced that a new economic analysis of tolling on Interstate 95 has been ordered and will be released next spring. The Fayetteville Observer reported that the study comes in the wake of public opposition this spring and cites the work of political officials for the latest shift in policy. Also this year, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a bill calling for an economic impact study of these tolls.
Last spring, after hearing from numerous constituents and businesses along the I-95 corridor, I submitted a letter to the Federal Highway Administration calling for an economic impact study before a decision is made to put this pilot program into effect. (Click Here to read my letter to the Federal Highway Administration.)
Under original proposals by the Perdue Administration and North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), a new pilot program to expand Interstate 95 would require new tolls along the highway to pay for 90 percent of the $4.4 billion project. These tolls would place an undue burden on commuters and businesses, causing a number of perverse incentives including redirected traffic to secondary roads, loss of income to businesses, and further stress to the neighboring economies.
Our highways need to be updated to meet growing needs and usage, but it should not come at unnecessary costs to businesses and the surrounding communities. I remain opposed to tolls on I-95 and maintain that any improvement to our highway system should not come at the expense of existing businesses and surrounding communities along the corridor that attract business to our state. I will continue to remain vigilant and work to protect our citizens from further economic harm as we strive to fix our economy and bring jobs to North Carolina.