New toll proposal on U.S. Interstate 95 nearing passage

Saturday, May 27, 2006

A $5 toll proposal for travel on Interstate 95 is gaining momentum in North Carolina, and has passed this week in the Virginia General Assembly. Toll booths would be set up at the border between the two states to collect revenues estimated in excess of $150 million annually, money that would be split by each state to help pay for needed maintenance of the interstate highway.

Virginia has apparently changed plans to go it alone with road improvement priorities to the I-95 section at the approach and departure corridors to Washington, D.C. The state strategy of partnering with private, for-profit road construction companies, such as Clark Construction Group and Fluor Virginia Inc., necessarily meant the placement of revenue collecting toll booths where they are least wanted and most inconvenient, on the already congested interstate travel points near the capital city of the United States.

Two proposals to widen the Springfield Interchange Improvement Project with more high-occupancy-vehicle lanes near Washington, D.C. on the Virginia side come at a combined cost in the range of $1.5 billion for the state to complete. A public-private partnership to fund the improvements, looked at by Virginia's Department of Transportation in January 2005, has now taken on a less region specific funding solution in favor of an interstate solution.

As a practical matter, toll collection booths located at the North Carolina-Virginia state line would spare motorists in the most affected Virginia region the hassle and expense of toll payments, but it misses imposing a toll on roadway users who are most responsible for the needed improvements. That expense, as currently proposed, is passed on to motorists using I-95 for the longer haul.

North Carolina governor Mike Easley has remained opposed to a Virginia-North Carolina Interstate Toll Road Compact. The estimated $4 billion in needed repairs to I-95 in that state, where in some places the roadway is 20-years-old, places a stress on budget resources necessary for the state to perform needed maintenance.

Senator Clark Jenkins of Tarboro County in North Carolina proposed legislation "to get the discussion started about the concept."

External link

  • By entering the search query 'Pleasant Hill, North Carolina' in Google Maps search engine, Route 301 appears as an obvious bypass to the toll booths (if enacted).