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Perdue orders 1-year moratorium on new ferry tolls

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Gov. Bev Perdue said today she will block new tolls on two free river ferries used by commuters, and rate increases on three ferries that collect tolls now, ordered by the legislature to take effect April 1. [2/29/12 update: see today's story with reader comments.]

"This new ferry tax -- which I have always opposed -- is both excessive and discriminatory," Perdue said in a news release. "It is unjust for the General Assembly to balance their budget on the backs of coastal working men and women."

Over the Democratic governor's veto, the Republican-led legislature passed a budget last year that included orders for the state Department of Transportation to start charging tolls on the free Neuse River and Pamlico River ferries used heavily by commuters who work at Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station at Havelock, and the PotashCorp Aurora phosphate mine in Beaufort County.

The increased rates were ordered for two Pamlico Sound ferries that link Ocracoke to Swan Quarter and Cedar Island, and the Fort Fisher - Southport ferry across the Cape Fear River.

Perdue said she would issue an order stating that coastal North Carolina is recovering slowly from the recession and damage caused by Hurricane Irene last August. New tolls would impose an added burden on residents, she said.

Perdue said she will impose a 12-month moratorium on the new and increased tolls. Her order directsDOT to find enough spending reductions to make up for the revenue that the new tolls would have generated.

Perdue's news release acknowledged that the budget requires DOT to collect the tolls, but that state law (N.C. G.S. 136-82) gives DOT discretion over whether to collect them. 

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toll free bridges

Taxpayers in NC have paid to build toll free bridges to every other Island in NC and I don't see anyone complaining about that or the high cost of building & maintaining roads through the mountains in the western part of the state or the amount of matanience needed to keep up the highly traveled roads in the triangle. Really? We all pay for it. We all pay for roads, bridges and ferries that we don't use. The ferry like the toll free roads & bridges are part of our states highway system.
 

Huh????

This new ferry tax (it's not a tax - it's a toll)-- which I have always opposed -- is both excessive and discriminatory

What happened to the pay to use model in place for i540, proposed for i95, etc? 

Hey Bev, How about declaring

Hey Bev,

How about declaring a moratorium on the new 540 "tax" that I have to pay if I want to take that road to Morrisville.  I think it is discriminatory.

Cost

What is it so bad to have drivers (or rather, passengers) pay what it costs for the services they use?

In 2010, the government of Iran reduced gasoline subsidies, and a gallon of gas went from 40-cents a gallon to $1.45 a gallon.  The population rioted in response.  Meanwhile Americans are like, "What are they complaining about?  I would kill for $1.45 gasoline."

A total moratorium on reducing these ferry subsidies is a bad move.  You could raise the fares more gradually, to allow passengers some time to adjust.  But delaying raising them at all is just bad governance.

FERRY TOLLS

Yes, but if those drivers, who also pay gas tax when they fill their cars, have to drive around the long way, they will add to the morning and evening traffic in New Bern, Havelock, and Washington therefore leading eventually to more congestion and rebuilding of those roads. Those particular ferries are part of a unified transportation system of roads, bridges, and ferries. I would bet that these ferries are also an attractive part of North Carolina's slower-paced coastal vacation experience which benefits all those involved in coastal tourism.

Upcoming Moratorium

NC will have a moratorium on Bev Perdue starting soon! 

Ferry Tolls

Bev says continuing a free ferry and not increasing the tolls on other ferry routes  is not discriminatory - but Bev, are not the non-ferry users picking up the tab for those ferry users? Sounds like we the non-users are being discriminated against by your "moratorium".

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About the blogger

Bruce Siceloff reports on traffic and transportation. A News & Observer reporter, editor and blogger since 1976, he took over the Road Worrier column in 2003. Lately he drives I-40 with the cruise control set at 68 mph. You can e-mail Bruce, call him at 919-829-4527, check out his Crosstown Traffic blog or follow him (@Road_Worrier) on Twitter.
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