McDonnell asks feds to allow tolls on I-95 near N.C. border
Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has officially asked permission from the federal government to begin collecting tolls near the Virginia-North Carolina border on I-95, writing a letterto U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood on April 20 making the request.
Tolling near the border was an important piece of the transportation funding package floated by McDonnell during last year's campaign for governor. He estimates Virginia could generate $30 million to $60 million a year from tolls on the Interstate, money that could be used to maintain the state's aging road network.
But the proposal illustrates an important fact about McDonnell's transportation funding plan: None of it is easy. To get tolling, McDonnell would have to secure federal approval for switching permission for tolls on I-81, where Virginia already has conditional tolling authority, to I-95 instead. In his April 20 letter, McDonnell argues the state needs revenue from the tolls to provide maintance funds for the highway, freeing up funds for other state roads.
But federal approval is no sure bet--for one thing, officials from North Carolina may well have something to say about the idea.
Meanwhile, McDonnell last week announced the members of his new government efficiency task force, which will examine how to go about selling state-run liquor stores. It will be up to the task force to come up with a way to make a profit off the sale--money that is to go to transportation.
But to make the sale work, they'll have to to convince alcohol-wary Republicans in the General Assembly that privitization won't lead to a liquor store on every corner. And they'll have to find a new taxing scheme for alcohol that will replace the annual revenues the state gets from the stores and still be acceptable to the tax-adverse GOP.
But if those ideas sound hard, they don't compare to the third major leg of McDonnell's campaign funding package: McDonnell proposed using revenue from drilling for oil off Virginia's coastline.
May 10, 2010; 3:05 PM ET
Categories: Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman , Transportation
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