After some lively discussion and two tie breaking votes, St. Pauls officially stated its opposition to tolling along I-95 as a way of financing the road improvement project at the Town Board of Commissioners meeting last Thursday.
Kristine O’Connor who is manger of the I-95 project, urged St. Pauls to not make any decision until more information could be obtained after an economic study, and Commissioners split about doing that.
Commissioners Sam McAllister, Sandy Cain and Buck Terry voted to table a proposed resolution opposing the toll plans, and Mayor Buddy Westbrook then sided with Commissioners David Ayers, Ghee Johnson and Jerry Weindel, breaking the three-all tie.
Mayor Westbrook then again broke the three-all tie when the resolution was called for a vote.
St. Pauls joins other municipalities up and down the interstate which have spoken against toll plans.
The entire stretch of the interstate across North Carolina is to be widened and improved, beginning in 2016 and running through 2019. The first phase would be a 61 mile-long portion from mile marker 20 in Robeson County to mile marker 81 in Johnston County. Among the work for that portion is widening the road from mile marker 31 (St. Pauls) to mile marker 81 to eight lanes. The other 11 miles would be widened to six lanes. North Carolina’s share (10 per cent) of the total costs of the road improvement plan is expected to top $440 million and the possibility of imposing tolls is one proposed way of offsetting that cost.
In other business, Commissioners:
—approved the location of a single-wide manufactured home on N. Alford Road;
—approved a request from the St. Pauls Shrinettes to use the Dr. R. E. Hooks Community Center for a spaghetti plate sale on Sept. 7;
—approved the use of the Hooks Center for a National Day of Prayer observance on Sat., May 5;
—approved the subdivision of several multi-plot tracts at Oakridge Cemetery into single plots.
Commissioners also began an on-going discussion of how best to use land according to the Town’s Land Use Map. This topic will be addressed at future Town Board meetings.
Mr. Barden of the Robeson County Teen Court program was unable to attend to request use of the Hooks Center for implementation of the program, but did re-schedule for April 30.