In response to questions raised regarding the economic impact of tolling I-95 in North Carolina, the N.C. Department of Transportation has begun an economic assessment process and has created an advisory council to help guide this process. The advisory council consists of representatives of major industries who have voiced concerns over the potential of utilizing tolling to add nearly 500 miles of new road lanes to I-95.
The advisory council met last month to discuss the process for moving forward. As a first step, council members and NCDOT staff collaborated to draft a Request for Proposals to find a firm or team of economic experts that will conduct an economic impact assessment. This assessment will examine what the economic impacts, both positive and negative, would be to adding lanes on I-95 and paying for them with tolling or utilizing other funding that may exist. It will also examine the economic impact of not adding the lanes or making any significant improvements outside what can be funded with existing funding sources. The RFP is posted here, with a June 29 deadline for proposal submission. Following a review of all proposals, a contract should be awarded in August. The advisory council will meet with the firm or team during the process to offer guidance and suggestions. It is anticipated that the assessment will be completed and presented to the public through a series of public meetings in March 2013.
During these months, NCDOT will focus I-95 study resources on the economic assessment and will not seek to obtain the necessary permits for lane expansions. NCDOT will continue to utilize its limited funds to maintain the existing highway. For more information on plans to improve I-95, visit www.driving95.com.