The Virginia Dept. of Transportation (VDOT) is proposing a new toll on I-95. If approved on the federal level, cars and trucks traveling on this busy interstate highway would be charged when driving both directions.
According to NBC News (via Associated Press), the proposal is a $4 toll for cars, and $12 for large trucks, traveling through the Commonwealth of Virginia. The proposed area is in rural Sussex County, near Emporia.
Interstate 95 is a heavily traveled road as it's essentially the main north/south corridor along the east coast, running from Maine to Florida.
The Richmond-Times Dispatch reported, I-95 in Virginia is "effectively the Main Street of America's East Coast, I-95 carries about 40 percent of the interstate traffic in Virginia and has some of the worst traffic congestion in the U.S., the state highway agency [VDOT] said."
The Department noted its need for tolls would help bridge the funding gap in order to work on the roadway and bridge improvements needing to be done; the agency says 67 percent of the road will be "at or over capacity by 2035."
VDOT says adding a toll at this location on I-95 would raise $35 million to $40 million a year. The state agency notes "much of I-95’s infrastructure has reached or exceeded its expected lifespan and requires major rehabilitation or replacement." [PDF]
Virginia's section of I-95 was constructed in the 1950s and spans 178 miles.
"The toll revenue will be used to make pavement, structural, operational, capacity and safety improvements throughout the (I-95) corridor," the cash-strapped Virginia Department of Transportation said, reported RichmondTimes-Dispatch.
While there is general agreement across the board additional funding is needed to support maintenance and repairs, the opposition to this proposal feel tolls are not the way to go.
"A $4 toll on motorists is extraordinarily high when they have been accustomed to driving on I-95 for free," said Martha Mitchell Meade, manager of public and government affairs for the AAA Mid-Atlantic travel organization.
Several other states south of Maryland, including Virginia, do not currently charge motorists tolls on Interstate 95. Although, many of the northern states along the corridor do.
"VDOT is moving too hastily on this proposal and thinking too narrowly," said Trip Pollard with the Southern Environmental Law Center in Charlottesville. "VDOT is not looking at freight and passenger rail, VRE (Virginia Railway Express commuter service), express bus service, and other steps that should be part of a comprehensive plan to improve this corridor."
The Virginia Trucking Association noted concerns over the significant impact the new toll would have on businesses that heavily rely on I-95, saying the fee "unfairly targets" businesses dependent upon interstate trucking and commerce.
"Businesses, especially distribution centers and manufacturing facilities, will undoubtedly look to locate away from I-95," and tolling I-95 will cause "a huge diversion of traffic to local roads that are not suited to handle high traffic volumes," said Dale Bennett, president and CEO of the Virginia Trucking Association.
Building the toll collection station would cost $50 million, VDOT said.