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Va. wants I-95 tolls along N.C. border

The McDonnell administration wants to establish tolls on Interstate 95 near the North Carolina border.

The Virginia Department of Transportation estimates the tolls could generate $30 million to $60 million annually, based on user fees of $1 to $2 an axle. The money generated by those tolls would be used to make safety improvements along the interstate.

Virginia officials say significant stretches of I-95 are in need of improvements and have some of the state's highest accident rates.

Gov. Bob McDonnell said Monday the state has submitted an application to the Federal Highway Administration to establish the tolls.

-- Associated Press

By Michael Bolden  |  May 10, 2010; 1:48 PM ET
Categories:  Advisories , Transportation Politics  
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Comments

I love the fact that VA can tolls on NC residents at their border on 95, but god forbid DC set up tolls on VA residents on 95

Posted by: Nosh1 | May 10, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

This probably has more to do with Floridians and New Yorkers than anybody from NC. Virginia is merely a drive-over state.

Posted by: jiji1 | May 10, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry this sounds like a tax to me.....McDonnell is one of Regan's boys right...NO MORE TAXES....

Posted by: spunyum | May 10, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Limitation of trade. Tolls on interstates should all be illegal. However, tolls to get off interstates are perfectly fine with me.

Posted by: Russtinator | May 10, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

I have no real problem with the idea of tolling a road to pay for either its construction or improvements to it, as long as the money is actually used for that purpose. For example, the tolls on the New Jersey Turnpike are used for maintenance and for improvements, and it gets no other funding aside from service area revenue. To me, that's capitalism in action--if you use the road, you pay for it; if you don't use it, you don't pay for it.

But I am rather skeptical of whether the feds would let Virginia impose a toll on I-95. Pennsylvania has been trying to get permission to toll I-80 for YEARS, but they've never been allowed to do it. If the tolls were to be used for widening the road, say into a separate car/truck setup as was proposed for I-81 a few years back, then they might stand a better chance, but "safety improvements" seems rather amorphous.

Posted by: 1995hoo | May 10, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

I'm not a big fan of tolls when things like roads should be paid for with operating budgets. But, that maeans funding, and that means taxes. Can't have that.

But, tolls are an improvement over the way VA usually funds roads: when the south needs roads, they tax NoVa. When NoVa needs roads the funding dies in the Assembly.

Posted by: oldtimehockey | May 10, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Pennsylvania's plan to implement a toll on I-80 has a fatal flaw...the money would be used to pay for roads all over PA, just like they are taking PA Turnpike toll money to pay for road and transit projects nowhere near the Turnpike. That's a non-starter with the Feds. Delaware does it now...their I-95 tolls go to fund projects statewide. But their I-95 tolls were already grandfathered in, and there's a big difference between a grandfathered toll and a new toll on an interstate.

If Virginia promises to keep money for I-95 only, then that might be acceptable (that in turn would free up a lot of VDOT money that is currently spent on I-95 to fund other projects). But there need to be some concrete improvements proposed. One idea is 4 lanes all the way from the Beltway to Richmond...its needed, and could be done if not for the lack of funding.

The one thing that might make the Feds (and anyone who drives I-95 in southern VA) not like this idea is that you are tolling the entire road by tolling one end. Someone driving to Florida will pay, but someone driving to Richmond will not pay anything, and someone driving from NC to Emporia will pay way more than their fair share. The idea that a toll in Emporia would fund improvements north of Richmond likely won't make the Feds too happy.

Posted by: thetan | May 10, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: member8 | May 10, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Good points as always, thetan. Your info about the I-80 tolling is something I had not known and I can see why the feds would resist it.

The points you make about I-95 and the unequal distribution of the tolls are good ones. I think there would also be some aspect of what you see in Delaware--that is, people avoiding the toll. It's not hard to get off I-95 at the last exit in North Carolina (which is one mile south of the state line), drive the six miles north into Virginia to the first interchange in the Commonwealth (Exit 4, which is near Skippers, four miles north of the state line), and get back onto I-95 there, presumably avoiding the toll in the process.

Certainly many people will not know how to do this, and many others may not care, but when it's easy to avoid a toll, many people will. I remember when you gave me the directions to avoid the "Tourist Exit" in Portland a few years ago when I was heading for the ferry to Nova Scotia. While it's only a 60ยข toll, that particular toll is like a big middle finger gesture because it's so easy to avoid, and I think Delaware's I-95 toll is the same way ever since they removed the old ramp tolls (meaning the only people who pay are those crossing to or from Maryland). Virginia's proposed toll is really no different in principle in that the only people who would get hit are people crossing the state line who aren't smart enough to use the easy "shunpike" route.

Posted by: 1995hoo | May 10, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

I applaud this action. It is high time the people of Virginia stop paying the bills for goods trucked to New York. Let those costs be transferred to the people receiving the goods.

To be effective it has to be implemented on I-81 at the same time or the trucks (and this IS about trucks) will just divert there.

If anything, the toll isn't high enough. Make it $4 an axle and build a nicer road, and if that causes more shippers to choose inter-modal transport (trailers on trains) through Virginia, so much the better.

Trucks are the most ridiculously wasteful means of transporting goods conceivable. They are only competitive when they are handed corporate welfare, that is, the use of roads for free. Railroads have to pay for their roads, and when trucks are forced to compete fairly, trucking rates won't look nearly as good.

This is actually a green initiative, and should be sold as such. Anything that takes trucks off the road is a good thing. They kill people and waste fuel. It is past time to stop subsidizing them.

Posted by: Chindokae | May 10, 2010 9:07 PM | Report abuse

thetan wrote:

> Pennsylvania's plan to implement a
> toll on I-80 has a fatal flaw...
> the money would be used to pay for
> roads all over PA, just like they
> are taking PA Turnpike toll money to
> pay for road and transit
> projects nowhere near the
> Turnpike.

It's important to note that much of the
toll revenue that would have been
collected from I-80 motorists was
destined for the salaries and benefits
of strictly unionized mass transit workers
employed by SEPTA (Philadelphia) and
the Port Authority of Allegheny County
(Pittsburgh), far, far from the I-80
corridor.

> That's a non-starter with the Feds.

I agree. If the Pennsylvania proposal
had been to collect the tolls and use
them ONLY to maintain and improve
the I-80 corridor, then I think it
would have been approved by the
federal government.

> Delaware does it now...their I-95
> tolls go to fund projects statewide.
> But their I-95 tolls were already
> grandfathered in, and there's a
> big difference between a
> grandfathered toll and a new toll
> on an interstate.

Not really grandfathered - most of I-95
in Delaware is the Delaware Turnpike,
and its construction was not paid for
with federal Interstate funding (even
though it carries the I-95 designation),
but by revenue bonds floated by the
state of Delaware and long since
paid-off (hence the removal of the
ramp tolls along the Delaware
Turnpike, leaving only the "main"
barrier that only tolls traffic coming
to and from Maryland).

> If Virginia promises to keep money
> for I-95 only, then that might
> be acceptable (that in turn would
> free up a lot of VDOT money that
> is currently spent on I-95 to fund
> other projects). But there need to
> be some concrete improvements
> proposed. One idea is 4 lanes all
> the way from the Beltway
> to Richmond...its needed, and could
> be done if not for the lack of
> funding.

I don't think there is political will
to do what would be required for
that, which is to toll ALL of I-95 in
the Commonwealth of Virginia, not
just imposing tolls on an
easy-to-avoid toll barrier near the
North Carolina border.

> The one thing that might make the
> Feds (and anyone who drives I-95
> in southern VA) not like this idea
> is that you are tolling the entire
> road by tolling one end. Someone
> driving to Florida will pay, but
> someone driving to Richmond will not
> pay anything, and someone driving
> from NC to Emporia will pay way
> more than their fair share. The
> idea that a toll in Emporia would
> fund improvements north of
> Richmond likely won't make the
> Feds too happy.

I agree. And just tolling traffic
crossing the state line (yes,
Delaware has been doing this for
years because they legally can) is
not likely to gain federal approval.

Posted by: cpzpd | May 12, 2010 8:55 AM | Report abuse

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