North Carolina House votes to keep lanes free

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A bill halfway through the North Carolina statehouse would authorize tolls to be applied to existing roadways such as Interstate 95, as long as the number of free lanes isn’t affected.

The state’s House voted 108-7 to advance to the Senate a bill that would allow the North Carolina Department of Transportation to charge tolls to pay for the construction of new lanes.

Although the legislation was prompted by a proposal to charge truckers and others to access I-95, the bill would apply to all of North Carolina’s existing interstates.

According to a 2012 financial report, the state believes about $16 billion could be raised through I-95 tolls during the next 40 years to cover the cost of upgrades along the 182-mile corridor.

Truck tolls could near $70 to drive the full length of I-95.

Gov. Pat McCrory has tried to squelch talk of charging the state’s highway users to access roadways. Instead, he has called for a more comprehensive look at transportation funding.

House lawmakers rejected a proposed amendment that sought to give the General Assembly veto authority on DOT toll decisions. Rep. Michael Speciale, R-New Bern, said that elected officials should have the final say – not appointed officials.

The bill – HB267 – awaits further consideration in the Senate before it could advance to the governor’s desk.

To view other legislative activities of interest for North Carolina, click here.

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