The jury is still out on how improvements for Interstate 95 will be paid for in the coming years. A solution needs to be found.
Business and government leaders seem to agree that I-95 will become more congested over time as populations grow along the coast. North Carolina has been gaining new residents each year for a while now.
Years of wear and tear and new drivers mean costly repairs and widening will be needed sometime in the foreseeable future.
Local tourism and economic development officials stood united this week in their explanation that a toll is not the answer for highway improvements. Cambridge Systematics will report back to the N.C. Department of Transportation on local opinions and options for the interstate.
That’s why a campaign of “No tolls” is insuffient for dealing with this issue.
It’s all well and good to be against tolls. The economic impact would not be a good thing for cities along Interstate 95. But as recent years have shown us with Congress, politicians will put off making a decision for as long as they can. And if a decision needs to be made quickly, it usually is made poorly.
If no plan has been decided on a decade from now, then a toll is likely to be considered the best option. It will take time to find the estimated $4.4 billion needed for interstate improvements, so that’s why officials need to explore other options now.
Business, tourism and municipal leaders should continue to push back against the toll option, but they also should look for other ways to pay for the project. The roadwork will need to be done. Building support for a better option can be more effective than just saying no to tolls.