Archive for October, 2012

North Carolina, Virginia Continue Heated Debate on Tolling

Monday, October 29th, 2012


During North Carolina’s third and final Gubernatorial debate last week, former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory and Lieutenant Governor Walter Dalton were asked to expound on alternative funding methods for improving Interstate 95 after each had expressed opposition to tolling. Lt. Gov. Dalton reiterated that he would focus on public-private partnerships as well as gathering a larger share of federal highway dollars. McCrory, meanwhile, said he would seek to reform the federal formula used to allocate highway funds to ensure that North Carolina receives its share of federal money.
In Virginia, the pressure by businesses and residents along the I-95 corridor has some questioning if Gov. Bob McDonnell is beginning to rethink his I-95 tolling plan. During his “Ask the Governor” radio show in Richmond last week, Gov. McDonnell said he knows a toll would create a hardship for people living in the area, and maintained that a toll isn’t a done deal yet. This marks a shift from Gov. McDonnell’s long-standing position that tolls are the only solution to the state’s need for transportation revenues. While Gov. McDonnell said he is considering several options, he added that tolling, in his opinion, is the best one on the table right now.

WTVR, CBS 6 in Richmond is asking readers to weigh in on whether they support tolls on I-95 with an online poll. The Partnership to Save Highway Communities is encouraging members to vote ‘NO’ to the poll.

Court of Public Opinion Rejects Tolls on I-95

Friday, October 12th, 2012

The war against tolls on I-95 in Virginia and North Carolina is going to be won in the court of public opinion. And it’s increasingly clear that anti-tolling sentiment in both states is growing stronger by the day.

Virginia business leaders this week put up a series of billboards touting tolls as highway robbery. The effort, aimed at grabbing the attention of Gov. Bob McDonnell as well as the public, is funded by businesses that say toll booths on I-95 in Sussex County will stunt their economic growth.

In the neighboring state of North Carolina, the Winston-Salem Journal sharply criticized the tolling plan, writing in an editorial that the N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) is about to waste $1.6 million assessing the economic impact of tolls on the interstate.

“DOT said it wanted to get a better idea of how tolls would impact business. We can save the state right here with the obvious answer: Tolls would hurt,” editors wrote in the Oct. 8 opinion. “DOT should save the $1.6 million and drop this whole notion of toll roads, too.”

N.C. gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory came out against the DOT tolling plan during a luncheon with Roanoke Valley residents saying that I-95 is a federal responsibility that shouldn’t be maintained through local tolls.

N.C. state Rep. Elmer Floyd, as well as the Harnett County Board of Commissioners, also added their names to the list of  more than 35 groups, including counties and towns, chambers of commerce and school boards, opposed to the tolling plan.

What’s more, nearly 4,500 N.C. residents have now signed a petition against the plan.

Ernie Brame, the new chairman of the No Tolls on I-95 Coalition, summed it up best this week in the Wilson Times  when he said, “I have to fight for this road because the DOT is fighting against it.”

The public’s verdict is in: Virginia and North Carolina residents and businesses don’t want tolls.

The government should put tolls aside and move on to its next order of business.