I remember the good old days when North Carolina was “the Good Road State.” By the second decade of the 20th century, the building of roads received new prominence, and it was during this period that North Carolina earned the label “the Good Roads State.” South Carolina had the worst roads in the world. Back then I thought South Carolina was a third world country anyway, and now I know it is.
In 1915, the Highway Commission was created, and in 1921 the General Assembly approved a $40 million state highway bond to construct a system of hard-surface roads connecting each of the 100 county seats with all of the others.
These new hard-surface roads soon proved ideal for automobiles and trucks. More highway bonds were approved to pay for a statewide system of paved highways. This gave North Carolina more roads by the end of the decade than any other southern state except Texas. The state government took over the county roads in 1931 and by 2000, North Carolina had 99,813 miles of paved public roads.
Now looking at the roads around the counties and towns one would think North Carolina was a third world country.
The Interstate system was championed by President Eisenhower after his 1919 trip across America as a young officer on the Lincoln Highway and his experiences with the Autobahn in Germany during WW11. This interstate system was done not for the convince of the citizens of the United States but to move troops and supplies around the country faster and also for landing strips anywhere.
The Federal Aid Highway Act was enacted in 1956. This Act was popularly known as the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act.
While federal legislation initially banned the collection of tolls on Interstates, many of the toll roads on the system were either completed or under construction when the Interstate Highway System was established and were grandfathered in.
Now Federal legislation encouraged the states to pursue innovative financing by easing the restrictions on building interstates as toll roads, either through state agencies or through public–private partnerships.
However, SAFETEA-LU left in place a prohibition of installing tolls on existing toll-free Interstates, and states wishing to toll such routes to finance upgrades and repairs must first seek approval from Congress. It’s not higher taxes but a toll.
I guess that the state has gone through that process and now is trying to hawk the concept of upgrading Interstate 95 with tolls to the good citizens of North Carolina and have the travelling visitors to pay for the $4.4 billion projects. I have read that it is set up to help the citizens of NC but I call it something else entirely.
Now how might this affect us, let me count the ways. Truckers and travelers now travel through to South Carolina or stop before entering the state to buy fuel to keep from paying the higher (38.9 cents) fuel tax. They don’t pay the tax which is for building and maintaining our once great highway system. The DOT estimates that 53,000 cars and trucks plow the 182 miles through the state per day and one in five (10,600) do not stop for anything.
With tolls that may add traffic to US 301 and they will drive through the state creating more wear and tear on the old North-South route. It is not the Appian Way. The state will lose traffic at the weigh station at Magnolia because of the trucks on 301. Can 301 handle the added traffic and will the new tolls also pay for the added maintenance?
Was this problem caused by the legislators taking the Highway funds and putting them in the General Fund to balance the budget as required by the state constitution? The old borrow from Paul to pay Peter. It’s the government way. Don’t cut spending just borrow it from somewhere, just as the Congress borrowed from Social Security to pay for tax cuts etc.? To use the old cliché, kick the can down the road.
This finally caught up with them. A lot of the roads in NC have been repaired by pouring hot tar into the cracks and they look like pages from the Koran if one can imagination that. Can this great project be put aside until the economy gets better?
PS. “These capitalists generally act harmoniously and in concert to fleece the people, and now that they have got into a quarrel with themselves, we are called upon to appropriate the people’s money to settle the quarrel.” Abraham Lincoln, January 1837