In North Carolina, the state Department of Transportation continues to discuss what improvements residents would like to see done to Interstate 95.
The latest in a series of public meetings dubbed “Driving 95. What’s Your View” was scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 19, in Smithfield, NC. Discussion focused on possible improvements to I-95 and how to pay for them. Among the options being discussed are public-private partnerships and local sales taxes.
Some state officials are pushing for conversion of the interstate into a toll road. But opposition groups are forming up – including one spearheaded by the Chamber of Commerce in Roanoke Rapids. Roanoke Rapids is a community on I-95 near the Virginia state line.
“We already pay a tremendous amount in gas tax for our highways in North Carolina,” Chamber President-CEO Allen Purser told Land Line Now on Sirius XM. “I understand the predicament NCDOT is in. We probably wouldn’t have a problem with tolling new construction. But tolling an existing highway is not reasonable.”
Purser says business owners are concerned that if the interstate becomes a toll road, motorists and truckers will use other routes to avoid the toll – and bypass Roanoke Rapids.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is opposed to efforts to pursue tolls on existing highways built with tax money. The Association believes that states must come up with ways to fund highway expansion without putting an additional burden on truckers and on others already paying their fair share in taxes.
Four more public meetings are planned in North Carolina to discuss improvements needed on I-95 and how to pay for it.
The following meetings are scheduled through the end of August:
- 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday, Aug. 23, at Wilson County Bill Ellis Convention Center, 2904 Forest Hills Road, Wilson, NC 27893;
- 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 26, at Harnett County Dunn Recreation Department-Community Center, 205 Jackson Road, Dunn, NC 28334;
- 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday, Aug. 30, at Robeson County Robeson Community College (Workforce Development Center-Building 18), 5160 North Fayetteville Road, Lumberton, NC 28360; and
- 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 31, at Cumberland County Holiday Inn, 1944 Cedar Creek Road, Fayetteville, NC 28312.
If you cannot attend a meeting, you can still submit a comment on this plan. Call the Driving 95 toll-free number at 877-I95-VIEW (877-495-8439) or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Other options are to comment on Facebook or Twitter.
The final plan for the interstate isn’t expected to be complete until fall 2011. At that time, other meetings are expected to inform the public on the findings.
Land Line staff