The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

June 20, 2012

Don’t kill I-95 tolls without studying options

THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
FOR THE DAILY SOUTHERNER

TARBORO — To the Editor:

Proposed tolling of I-95 in North Carolina has gotten a lot of media

coverage opposing tolling, and Members of the NC General Assembly and U.S. Congress are lining up in opposition as well.

North Carolina does not have the $4.4 billion needed to improve, repair and widen I-95. We cannot raid   money from other transportation projects around the state and if every dime allocated for the counties along I-95 was used ONLY for this project, it would still take 60 years to finance - at the sacrifice of any other transportation projects needed in those communities.

Tolling I-95 is the most equitable way to charge vehicles using the commodity — the road — for its upkeep and improvement. It is also the most direct way to capture out-of-state drivers using North Carolina's portion of the interstate as well as heavy tractor trailers, which, incidentally, do the most damage to pavement.

There are solutions to provide relief to the small businesses and residents in the counties along who only use small portions of I-95. Discounted passes, reduced rates, exemptions, free local "express" lanes or strategically spaced tolling plazas should all be considered. We should not completely eliminate the idea until weighing options, or offering alternative funding concepts.

A lot more economic harm would come from failing to maintain I-95 as a vital corridor. We would hope elected officials, rather than shooting down proposed solutions, would offer ideas that realistically address the problem.  Inaction now will only escalate future costs and compromise driver and passenger safety.

Allen Barnhill

Justin Barnhill

Drew Johnson

Barnhill Construction

Tarboro