Credit the N.C. General Assembly, Gov. Pat McCrory and the N.C. Department of Transportation for using the ears they were born with. They want to hear your thoughts on Interstate 95.
As Telegram staff writer John Henderson reported this week, the Department of Transportation has put together an online survey to solicit funding ideas.
Representatives from the department want to know where to find the money to pay for much needed improvements on I-95.
Businesses and industries already have expressed their feelings loudly and clearly about a toll proposal. They worry a toll would hurt existing businesses and stymie travel and tourism from out-of-state visitors.
An I-95 toll also would burden farmers and and longtime residents of cities and towns in Eastern North Carolina, they say.
But as we’ve already asked several times in this space: If not a toll, then how else can the state pay for a project as massive as this?
Now’s your chance to offer an opinion. The online survey offers a list of possibilities – gas tax increases, vehicle registration fee hikes, higher property taxes, usage fees and other proposals.
N.C. Transportation Commissioner Tony Tata recently suggested that a toll on I-95 alone would be unfair to residents on this side of the state. If we’re to venture down that road, tolls need to be implemented elsewhere, as well.
That suggestion would spread the pain more equitably, but we can’t imagine doing a lot of celebrating as we pay to drive along Interstate 40 to Asheville.
A gasoline tax hike has been suggested. But we already have the fifth-highest such tax in the country. Neighboring Virginia and South Carolina recently cut their fuel tax rates. Savvy out-of-state visitors will no doubt fill up before and after their trip to North Carolina, but not during.
So here’s a chance to tell state government how it should handle this project. Results are expected to be sent to the General Assembly in April.
We’ll certainly be eager to hear the suggestions.