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Project History

October 2003: I-95 Tolls Feasibility Study

A feasibility study – mandated by the N.C. General Assembly – found that tolling I-95 in North Carolina most likely could completely finance 30 years of costly improvements to expand and maintain the interstate. Traditional funding, the study found, would likely cover no more than 40 percent of the then-estimated $3 billion needed.

The study recommended that:

2010: Borders Tolls Assessment

An assessment on tolling I-95 at the South Carolina and Virginia borders found that electronic tolling – as well as a limited number of toll collection stations at the borders – would generate relatively little revenue to fund necessary improvements on the interstate.

The assessment concluded that state line tolling would only generate net revenue sufficient to reconstruct up to a mile of interstate every year on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Using a rule of thumb that each $1 of net revenue can bond approximately $10 of improvements, an expected revenue stream of $24 million would be sufficient to support reconstructing less than 10 miles of I-95, compared to 182 miles of needs.

April 2011: I-95 Planning and Finance Study

Consultants released results of a 2009 planning and finance study aimed at:

  • Establishing corridor improvement and rehabilitation needs
  • Examining funding options
  • Conducting environmental assessments of the impact of alternative program funding alternatives
  • Preparing an improvement program financing plan
  • Considering the merits of submitting an application to the federal Interstate System Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Pilot Program

The study is available in the I-95 Corridor Planning and Financing Study document library.

January 2012: Environmental Assessment

The results of an environmental assessment (studied to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act) on the impacts of tolling as the primary funding source for I-95 improvements concluded that the environmental impact of tolling would not be significant.

The assessment also concluded that expanding the current general-use lane concept – funded primarily by toll revenue – provided the best financial opportunity.

Following a series of public hearings on the environmental assessment, NCDOT conducted additional assessments on the economic impact of tolling I-95 before initiating work on a Finding of No Significant Impact.

The assessment is available in the I-95 Corridor Planning and Financing Study document library.

February 2012: Interstate System Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Pilot Program

NCDOT became one of three states accepted into the Federal Highway Administration's Interstate System Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Pilot Program, which would allow for tolling on I-95 in North Carolina.

June 2013: Economic Assessment

The results of the economic assessment found that the economic loss to the I-95 corridor region and the state – as a result of maintaining I-95 under traditional funding – is far greater than the loss arising from the increase in state and local taxes and/or fees (including tolling) to pay for proposed improvements.

Another finding from the economic assessment was that the economic impact of tolls is no better or worse than other funding alternatives that were examined and that implementing proposed improvements to I-95 – regardless of how they are funded – would have a positive economic impact for the I-95 corridor region and the state.

The economic assessment was the result of collaboration with an advisory council consisting of representatives from major industries concerned about the potential of utilizing tolling to add nearly 500 miles of new road lanes to I-95.

The assessment is available in the I-95 Corridor Planning and Financing Study document library.

July 2014: Express Lane Assessment

An assessment on the feasibility of adding tolled, managed "express lanes" – instead of tolling all lanes – found that doing so would be, at best, cost-neutral compared to the construction of general-use lanes and would not provide for needed rehabilitation costs.

The main reason, the study found, is that heavy, extended, recurring congestion along the corridor is not a major element of long-term improvement needs. Use of the express lanes would be only sporadic and would not benefit a major portion of I-95 traffic.

2015: Variable Pricing Assessment

The Variable Pricing Assessment found that implementing a variable pricing policy – where toll rates would vary by season and time of day to reflect congestion conditions – would likely have a significant negative impact on financial feasibility due to the increase in required state funding and the delay in repaying those funds from residual toll revenues.

2015: Finding of No Significant Impact and Environmental Assessment Re-Evaluation

Following the completion of both the environmental and economic assessments, a draft Finding of No Significant Impact is under development.

Because of the time elapsed since the completion of the environmental assessment – and at the direction of the Federal Highway Administration – NCDOT began preparing a re-evaluation of the environmental assessment in response to federal regulation.

The re-evaluation includes:

  • Preparing responses to all comments about the original environmental assessment
  • Meeting with the Agency Steering Committee to provide an update on study activities and review resource agency comment responses
  • Updating and summarizing the environmental assessment documentation
  • Preparing the re-evaluation to document actions and evaluations supplemental to those documented in the final environmental assessment

February 2016: Finance Plan Update

NCDOT updated the I-95 finance plan – prepared as a condition for entry into the Interstate System Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Pilot Program – to include the implications of the Strategic Transportation Investments (STI) legislation on the state's ability to fund I-95 improvements without tolling and also to reflect new federal transportation funding authorization legislation.

Based on traffic and revenue forecasts prepared for the I-95 Economic Assessment – the original finance plan indicated a high probability that tolling could fully fund the I-95 improvements with little or no need for public equity and that toll financing would allow an aggressive improvement program schedule, with needed improvements completed far faster than through use of traditional funding.

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.

Even under the more conservative tolling scheme, toll revenues could underpin financing of an aggressive construction program under which the 182-mile stretch of I-95 could be improved and rehabilitated within 20 years of the start of construction.

The economic assessment and the finance plan concluded that the use of traditional public funding at historical funding rates would, at best, require 60 years to complete the same program, and with continued accrual of needs for both expansion and rehabilitation over time, it is more likely that traditional funding would never address I-95 needs.

9/25/2020 10:36 AM