Tolls May Be Coming To I-95 In Virginia

Money would fund road improvements

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    Virginia has received preliminary approval to add tolls to Interstate 95.

    The Federal Highway Administration could allow the tolls as part of the Interstate Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Pilot Program.

    That program allows three states to impose tolls on interstate highways and use the money to help fund road improvements.

    The Virginia Department of Transportation estimates tolls would bring in $250 million in the first five years.

    Locations for toll plazas in the past have been discussed along points between Richmond and North Carolina.

    “I-95 is one of the most important and heavily traveled highway corridors in the country, linking population and commercial centers up and down the East Coast," Gov. Bob McDonnell said Monday. "This approval is a major step toward funding critical capacity and infrastructure improvements needed in this corridor. The Commonwealth cannot continue to be a leader in economic development and job creation if we do not address our transportation needs. ... The ability to toll I-95 will help leverage this investment by funding transportation improvements in this vital corridor.”

    Originally, Virginia had been conditionally approved to add tolls to Interstate 81.  Under this new decision, that approval is rescinded.

    Improvements that could be funded are the widening of I-95 between I-295 and the North Carolina state line, shoulder widening, installing guardrails and improving pavements.

    The American Trucking Associations, a trade group based in Arlington, opposes the new tolls.  “While it is true that I-95 is one of the ‘most important and heavily traveled highway corridors in the country,’ as Gov. McDonnell says, there are far more expeditious and efficient ways of raising revenue for its upkeep than tolls,” the ATA president Bill Graves said. “Study after study shows that tolls carry astronomically higher capital and overhead expenditures compared to the fuel tax."

    The ATA warned that tolls could lead to traffic backups and truck drivers clogging up local roads to avoid tolls.