RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Just about every parent wants to make sure their child’s school is the best it can be and gets all the funding it deserves.
However, one CBS 17 viewer says she’s concerned that the costly Interstate 95 widening project between Benson and Lumberton is taking money away from schools.
In response to her inquiry, CBS 17 Consumer Investigator Steve Sbraccia got answers about the source of the money.
The project is slated to cost $709 million and last four years.
The concrete barriers and barrels stretch for miles along I-95 between Benson and Lumberton.
Viewer Rebecca Goodson believes the funds to improve the highway should be spent elsewhere.
In an email to CBS 17 she wrote: “I believe the money would be better spent on our students. The schools need improvement.”
“Turning I-95 into 8 lanes so that there is more traffic, and more accidents does very little to help our kids,” Goodson added.
So, CBS 17 asked the NCDOT the source of the $709 million for the project.
“Basically, our revenue comes from the people who use the highway, and gas up their cars and from federal highway grants,” said NCDOT spokesman Andrew Barksdale.
Let’s break that down:
The NCDOT’s operating budget is about $5 billion. It comes from:
- The gas tax
- DMV Fees
- Federal highway grants
- A small portion of the sales tax also funds NCDOT
Schools get their funding from
- The North Carolina General Assembly for teacher salaries
- County commissioners and local governments also contribute to school budgets
We asked Barksdale if that money wasn’t used to widen that section of Interstate 95, where would it end up going?
“We would spend that money on other road improvement projects,” he said.
That section of interstate being improved was built back in the late 1950s and it no longer meets current design standards.
It will be widened to four lanes in each direction and storm proofed so it won’t flood like it did in 2016 and 2018 following hurricanes Matthew and Florence.
The whole interstate will be lifted up on a higher subgrade and bridges will be 10 feet higher based on hydrology studies and recent hurricanes,” said Barksdale.
Of the $709 million price tag, $22 million of it comes from a federal highway grant.