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I-95 Projects

Overall improvements to I-95 have not been scheduled; however, the latest version of the State Transportation Improvement Program includes several projects along the corridor.

Latest News and Updates

February 2016: NCDOT completes updates to the I-95 finance plan to include the effects of the Strategic Transportation Investments (STI) law on the state's ability to fund I-95 improvements without tolling. The updated finance plan concluded that NCDOT will not be able to accelerate I-95 improvements in any significant way, because STI restricts the amount of Highway Trust Fund revenues that can be spent on a single project or corridor.

Dec. 4, 2015: Congress approved the FAST Act (Fixing America's Surface Transportation) five-year transportation funding bill to improve the nation's surface transportation infrastructure. This includes North Carolina's roads, bridges, transit systems and rail transportation network.

The FAST Act also modified the timeline for North Carolina's 2012 conditional approval of the I-95 corridor in the Interstate System Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Pilot Program, essentially requiring NCDOT to complete its process by Dec. 4, 2016, to retain its slot.

Overall improvements to I-95 have not been scheduled; however, the latest version of the State Transportation Improvement Program includes several projects along the corridor.

​Frequently Asked Questions

Why is I-95 important to North Carolina?

The 182-mile stretch of I-95 that runs through North Carolina is crucial for the movement of people and goods across the state and along the entire eastern seaboard. I-95 provides freight access to the major ports in Wilmington and Morehead City as well as convenient connections to rail facilities for the transfer and distribution of goods. The corridor also serves thousands of motorists traveling within the state and to the north and south of North Carolina. I-95 is a direct route to Fort Bragg, the largest Army installation in the world, based on population.

Why do we need the I-95 Corridor Planning and Finance Study? 

The I-95 Corridor Planning and Finance Study created a blueprint for the future of I-95 in North Carolina and has helped determine the road's needs, define and prioritize necessary improvements and identify ways to fund these improvements.

Is there something wrong with I-95 through North Carolina? 

I-95 in North Carolina was built between 1956 and 1980. With the exception of some sections near Fayetteville and the I-95/I-40 interchange near Benson, it is basically the same four-lane highway as when it was first built.

The roadway does not meet the most current design standards for a freeway carrying a large percentage of truck traffic. These standards specify 12-foot lanes with 12-foot paved shoulders and greater clearance under bridges. The medians are also too narrow along I-95 through much of the state.

Past studies have shown that I-95 in North Carolina must be rebuilt and widened to meet the needs of the growing number of vehicles that travel on it every day. The I-95 Corridor Planning and Finance Study produced detailed estimates of future traffic and evaluated whether the existing lanes on I-95 are sufficient to handle it.

Pavement and bridge conditions along I-95 are also an issue. Data from NCDOT shows that between one-third and one-half of the pavement along I-95 in the state is rated as "very poor," "poor" or "fair" and will need to be resurfaced or reconstructed. Bridges on I-95 are in poor condition as well. Of the 188 bridges over I-95 in North Carolina, nearly half of them have been identified as needing repair or replacement.

Additionally, the public has long expressed concerns about the safety of I-95 in North Carolina. This can be borne out in the data. From 2010 through 2012, the statewide fatal crash rate was 0.38 per 100 million vehicle miles. The fatal crash rate for I-95 in North Carolina during that time ranged from 0.72 to 1.02 crashes per 100 million vehicle miles.

Does the study consider tolling I-95? Has the decision to toll already been made? 

No, a decision has not been made to toll I-95. The I-95 Corridor Planning and Finance Study evaluated tolling as one of many options for funding improvements to the corridor. The study provided an in-depth assessment of the needs for I-95 in North Carolina, with detailed information on the associated costs of improvements. The study also explored funding options using both toll and non-toll alternatives.

When will improvements to I-95 be made? 

The role of the I-95 Corridor Planning and Finance Study was to create a blueprint for the future of I-95 in North Carolina, which includes identifying and prioritizing specific projects along the corridor for planning and construction.

The timeline for implementing these projects depends on available funding. A feasibility study completed in 2003, at the request of the state legislature, suggested that tolling I-95 would allow individual projects to move forward more quickly while non-toll alternatives would take longer.

How much did the study cost? Why did NCDOT hire consultants to do this work? 

The I-95 study cost approximately $6.4 million. Expert consultants were chosen for this project because of their experience with sophisticated traffic modeling, public outreach and funding options. The study produced several tools that can be used again as planning and construction projects along various sections of I-95 move forward in the future. These include:

  • An implementation plan, which defines individual projects along the corridor and ranks them in order of need
  • A regional traffic model, which can predict future traffic volumes along I-95 and the effect that tolling I-95 would have on other roads such as U.S. 301
  • A functional (i.e. conceptual-level) design for the improvements to I-95, which can be further refined as projects are initiated along sections of I-95
How much money would it cost each person to use I-95 if it is tolled? 

The I-95 Corridor Planning and Finance Study evaluated a range of toll rates for the I-95 corridor in North Carolina as part of the financial analysis. Similar toll facilities around the country charge tolls in the range of 10 to 20 cents per mile.

Similar toll facilities around the country charge tolls in the range of 3 to 35 cents per mile.

Are you going to treat local drivers differently from out-of-state drivers if I-95 were to be tolled?

Various toll scenarios were evaluated as part of the I-95 Corridor Planning and Finance Study, including ways to reduce the burden on daily commuters.

Tolling I-95 could affect U.S. 301. Does the study include those effects?

Yes. The traffic model developed as part of the I-95 Corridor Planning and Finance Study predicted the effect that tolling I-95 would have on other roads, such as U.S. 301.

How did NCDOT use information it gathered from the public?

NCDOT sought public comment while conducting the I-95 Corridor Planning and Finance Study to learn how the public uses I-95 and perceives the roadway's deficiencies, improvement needs and potential funding options.

Public input will have an impact on the technical decisions, especially in helping NCDOT decide where the greatest needs are along I-95. It will also ensure that all financing options are explored and that the impact of any recommended option is fully understood.

Why aren't other interstates in North Carolina, such as I-85, also being considered for tolling?

The I-95 Corridor Planning and Finance Study focuses on I-95, but it does not preclude consideration of tolling other interstate routes in North Carolina.

I-95 was considered for tolling because of its deteriorating conditions and the expensive anticipated costs of the necessary improvements.

I-95 is basically the same four-lane highway today as when it was first built. I-85, for example, has been widened in many locations over the years, particularly between Gastonia and Durham.

Won't toll booths on I-95 slow down and/or delay traffic?

The I-95 Corridor Planning and Finance Study looked at ways to collect tolls without the use of toll booths. One option involves creating a free-flow toll zone using an electronic collection system in which vehicles don't have to stop to pay tolls.

Drivers could use an electronic device called a transponder in their vehicle. When it passes through a toll zone, an overhead receiver would detect the transponder – affixed to the vehicle's interior windshield – and then deduct the toll amount from a prepaid account.

For drivers opting to go without a transponder, cameras in the toll zone would take a photo of the vehicle license plate, match it to DMV records and then either deduct the toll amount from a pre-paid account or bill the motorist associated with the license plate.

7/10/2018 10:18 AM

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