Study on I-95 tolls almost complete, NCDOT says - WNCN: News, Weather

Study on I-95 tolls almost complete, NCDOT says

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A study that could help state leaders decide on tolling on Interstate 95 could soon be finished.

Roberto Canales with the North Carolina Department of Transportation told Cumberland County Commissioners Tuesday morning the study should be finished by early May.

Cumberland County Commissioners are particularly interested in the interstate tolling option because the Fayetteville area is home to several manufacturing and distribution centers that use I-95 heavily.

Some local leaders fear tolls on the interstate would be too much of a cost to those businesses, resulting in them closing or relocating. In addition, there is concern tolls would deter future expansion of those businesses or that businesses considering locating in the Fayetteville area would look elsewhere because of the cost.

"It is scary in a sense that it's a new thing for North Carolina, and before you take those kinds of steps you need to make sure you're doing the right thing," said Canales, the study coordinator. "So that's what we're trying to do is verify that it is or is not a good choice for I-95."

Canales said the study of economic impact on the I-95 region cost about $2 million. State leaders requested the study after an initial study produced an environmental impact statement. That first study, which cost about $6.4 million, also determined that tolling would be a viable option to pay for improvements to I-95.

Canales said tolls on the interstate are basically one of three options to pay for improvements to the aging interstate. He said the state could explore other options to pay for the improvements, but so far there are no established alternatives.

The state could also decide not to do a comprehensive I-95 improvement initiative. He said with that option, it would take 70 to 80 years of patchwork improvements to keep the interstate in good condition.

"I think they're actually waiting to hear the information," Canales said about how state leaders are considering the study on tolling. "Everyone wants facts so they can make educated decisions."

Brandon Herring

Brandon is a North Carolina native and UNC alum who lives in Fayetteville, and covers Cumberland County and the Sandhills. Returning to North Carolina to work as a journalist is a dream come true for Brandon. More>>

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