Court of Public Opinion Rejects Tolls on I-95

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.

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