NCDOT hires pro-tolling firm to study economic impact of I-95

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 10/3/2012

The North Carolina Department of Transportation has hired a firm that specializes in tolling and pricing to study the economic impact of the massive $4.4 million proposal to overhaul I-95. Opponents to interstate tolling say the hiring of a pro-tolling firm shows a bias in favor of a tolling option.

The NCDOT announced Tuesday, Oct. 2, that it has hired Cambridge Systematics to complete the study in six months at a cost of $1.6 million.

NCDOT says the study will “examine what the economic impacts, both positive and negative, will be to adding lanes on I-95 and paying for them with tolling or utilizing other funding that may exist. It will also examine the economic impact of not adding the lanes or making any significant improvements outside of what can be funded with existing funding sources.”

North Carolina and Virginia are both considering options including tolls for the busy I-95 corridor.

OOIDA questions the retention of a pro-tolling firm for a study that should remain unbiased.

“An economic impact study is certainly warranted for any tolling related project. It’s disheartening to see the state DOT hire a major national firm with more experience in helping set toll rates in Texas than with understanding the North Carolina economy,” said OOIDA Director of Legislative Affairs Ryan Bowley. “It is important that this study be conducted in an unbiased manner and not just used by NCDOT to justify their desire to put new taxes on mobility.”

Cambridge Systematics is a firm that has a long history of working as an adviser to tolling authorities and other organizations looking to advance new toll roads and new toll taxes on existing toll-free roads.

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