Traffic has been worsening on I-81 for several years, but so far no permanent solution has been implemented.
That may soon change as politicians believe they’ve finally found a fix.
“Sen. Bill Carrico, from Grayson, and Delegate Terry Austin of Botetourt, joined other lawmakers in submitting two bills to impose tolls on Interstate 81’s entire 325-mile-stretch” reported local WSLS 10.
Governor Ralph Northam also announced his support for the plan.
The toll rate for drivers will be set at 11 cents per mile for cars and 17 cents per mile for Class 6 and higher trucks.
For one-time local traffic the costs run quite low.
But for daily commutes or long trips the miles will add up quickly.
I-81 runs 325 miles in Virginia near the West Virginia Border.
If tolls are collected along this entire stretch, the bill stacks quite high.
Costs would hit $35.75 and $55.25 for cars and trucks respectively.
But additional tolls may push that price tag even higher.
Bridges would carry tolls of their own, with rates starting at $36.83.
The hopes behind the high toll rates is that the dedicated revenue source would make Federal funding easier to secure.
However, the bill is picking up steep opposition, and costs are just one of the concerns.
Drivers to be Filmed and Penalized for Taking Exits to Avoid Tolls
Critics oppose installing tolls on I-81 for a variety of reasons.
A primary concern is that rural roads will take the worst hit as drivers seek alternative routes to avoid paying tolls.
Lawmakers propose setting-up a comprehensive camera system to resolve this.
The cameras would record drivers to track their route, and to issue fines for taking exits to evade tolls.
But the idea of cameras recording drivers 24/7 has Stephanie Kane of the Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates concerned.
“[This] raises a lot of privacy concerns, because who is to say why you got off the highway at what road you did … and it’s going to cost a lot of money to enforce that” Kane stated.
The American Trucking Association (ATA) also weighed in on the issue.
In a letter to Governor Northam the ATA explained that not only are tolls “poor public policy … but that they raise serious legal issues.”
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