Skip to main content

Broken Record Time: NC looks at tolling I-95 (again)

It seems like every year for the past decade, a story about NCDOT looking at the possibility of tolling Interstate 95 comes out. The local news outlets pick it up, and you have a reporter in an orange vest asking motorists what they feel about the idea. The story dies until it comes up again the following year.

And now that ground has been broken on the state's first toll road - guess what highway story is in the news again? Tolling I-95.

It's the trial balloon that never lands!

Some background (because we haven't covered this issue here at the blog, yet):

Interstate 95 is the backbone of the East Coast - and most of its traffic through the Tar Heel State is through traffic. The highway is four lanes throughout - and a significant stretch of highway dates to the early 1960s if not earlier.

NCDOT officials admit and have plans to widen the highway to a minimum of six lanes, but like many other states - they don't have the funding. So tolling the route has been considered since at least 2001.

There has been debate on how the road would be tolled. Since most of the traffic on I-95 are out-of-state drivers passing through (or to) North Carolina, some have suggested only having toll booths at the state lines. Obviously, many are concerned that folks not wanting to pay the toll will jump off I-95 onto two lane US 301 to avoid the toll. That would hurt revenue and most likely make US 301 a traffic mess.

Other options include electronic tolling, staggered toll barriers throughout the state, and just about every other toll possibility imaginable. Toll rates have varied from $5 - $15 to travel I-95.

As mentioned earlier, the state does have plans to widen I-95 to six lanes. Projects like the rebuild of the Four Oaks Interchange (Exit 87) were constructed to accommodate a six lane I-95. Within the NCDOT STIP, widening I-95 from Eastover to Kenly has been programmed with some projects possibly beginning in 2013 or 2015. This widening would be piecemeal and similar to widening projects of I-85 and I-40. However, funding concerns has continually pushed any efforts to widen I-95 back...sometimes indefinitely.

So where are we now?

State Secretary of Transportation Gene Conti has stated in a number of different forums that the state will start a study on tolling I-95 next year. The length of the study was not announced. Don't expect seeing tolls on I-95 soon though, that's years away.

Of course there is that whole issue of getting federal approval for tolling the highway, and just ask Pennsylvania how well the proposal to toll I-80 through that state is going.

Comments

Anonymous said…
That's stupid. to toll I-95 when our tax payers already paid them off... that is gonna make other drivers not happy and dump traffic on US 301.. or any nearby highways, thats for sure.
Anonymous said…
It's inevitable that Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina will put tolls on I-95. The road is basically unchanged from the 1950's design, but it carries three or four times more traffic than it was designed for. None of these states can pay for the upgrades, which will probably cost over a billion dollars for the whole 450 miles.
Anonymous said…
Virginia used to have tolls on I-95 from Petersburg to Richmond and tolls were already removed.. if SC and NC decided to put up tolls on the state lines.. i cant imagine how nightmare the traffic will be when drivers decide to dump traffic on local US routes..

Popular posts from this blog

Small Towns of Virginia Series - Charlotte Court House

This sleepy little rural town in Central Virginia can easily be overlooked.  Located miles from the Interstate or four lane US and Virginia Highways, Charlotte Court House in many ways is easily forgotten.  However, this tiny town of slightly over 400 residents holds a lot of Virginia and American History.

In 1799, Charlotte Court House saw the passing of the torch from an aging Patrick Henry and a young John Randolph.  The great debate over states' rights was the last for the fiery Henry and the first in public for Randolph.  Randolph would go on to serve in the US House of Representatives and U.S. Minister to Russia.  Henry, who was serving in the Virginia General Assembly representing Charlotte County at the time of the debate, died three months later.

Charlotte Court House is not the original name of the town.  Originally named The Magazine, then Daltonsburgh, followed by Marysville (which was the town's name at the time of the Henry-Randolph debate), Smithfield, and finally…

History of the Wawona Road (Yosemite National Park)

Recently I located a portion of the Old Wawona Road that was the original alignment used by wagons and early cars to get to Yosemite Valley from the south before the Wawona Tunnel was built.  Locating the Old Wawona Road was the primary driving force to head to a very dry Yosemite National Park this winter.






Generally I don't talk about the history of a route first, but in the case of the Wawona Road I thought it was particularly important to do so first.  The modern Wawona Road is approximately 28 miles in length from the north terminus of California State Route 41 at the boundary of Yosemite National Park to South Side Drive near Bridalveil Falls in Yosemite Valley.  A good chunk of people entering Yosemite Valley use the Wawona Road which generally is considered to be the easiest route...that certainly was not always the case.

The origins of the Wawona Road are tied to the Wawona Hotel.  The first structure in the Wawona Hotel complex dates back to 1876 which was built by the Wa…

Old California State Route 41 on Road 425B

While researching the history of the Lanes Bridge crossing of the San Joaquin River I noticed an oddity on the 1935 California Division of Highways map of Madera County.  Today California State Route 41 takes a crossing of the Fresno River west of the confluence with China Creek.  Back on the 1935 Map of Madera County the crossing is very clearly east of the confluence crossing on what are now Road 425B and Road 426 in Oakhurst.   CA 41 can be seen traversing southbound from Oakhurst on Road 425B towards Coarsegold on the 1935 Madera County Map.

1935 Madera County Highway Map

After viewing Road 425B on the Google Street Vehicle it was clear that the path downhill from the top of Deadwood Gulch was substantially more haggard than the modern alignment of CA 41.  I finally had occasion to visit Oakhurst today so I pulled off of modern CA 41 at Road 425B.   Immediately I was greeted by this warning sign.






Road 425B ahead was clearly a narrow road but barely wide enough for two vehicles.  T…