Toll Roads on the Table in the Tarheel State
March 21, 2001
North Carolina is one of just a dozen states that does not have public or private toll roads, but a pair of bills proposed last week could end that to create revenue to build more highways.
One bill, SB474, calls for the installation of tollbooths along Interstate 95 at the South Carolina and Virginia borders. The second, HB644, which has the interest of state transportation officials, would create a state Turnpike Authority that could build toll roads and collect fees from drivers who use them.
"We're just trying to get some roads built so you don't have a traffic jam every time you're going into Raleigh," Rep. Jim Crawford of Granville, co-chairman of the House appropriations transportation subcommittee who filed the turnpike authority bill, told The Charlotte Observer.
According to the newspaper, delays in the state's road-building program could help the turnpike idea get more votes in the House. As many as 30 private toll road proposals have been sent to the state Transportation Department, Deputy Transportation Secretary David King told The Observer.
A legislative study commission looking at transportation finance issues in January recommended for the General Assembly to continue studying toll roads. A majority on the panel also favored increasing drivers' license and vehicle registration fees and increasing the fuel tax by 2 cents per gallon to generate an additional $450 million annually for road maintenance and construction.
AAA Carolinas Motor Club, a strong opponent of toll roads in the state, says its members would rather pay a few cents more per gallon of fuel rather than deal with the inconvenience and inequities associated with the roads.