RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Today, Governor Bob McDonnell announced his Administration's first step forward in implementing tolling along Virginia's border.
According to a release from the governor's office, an application has been submitted to the Federal Highway Administration to toll Interstate 95 near the North Carolina Border.
Speaking about the application, Governor McDonnell noted "After a careful review of the Commonwealth's transportation needs, I believe the ability to toll Interstate 95 at the border will quickly enable the Commonwealth to begin addressing some of our greatest areas of concern. Such user fees will help the Commonwealth generate the revenue necessary to make much needed infrastructure and safety improvements in the I-95 corridor to better serve the traveling public and increase economic productivity."
At the direction of the Governor, Secretary of Transportation Sean T. Connaughton submitted the tolling request under the Interstate System Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Pilot Program. Virginia currently has approval to toll Interstate Route 81 under that Pilot Program and is requesting to switch that authority to Interstate Route 95.
The Governor has written to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood urging a positive response to Virginia's request.
Interstate Route 95 is one of the nation's largest and most important transportation corridors, linking commercial and economic centers and tourist destinations up and down the East Coast. However, significant portions of Interstate Route 95 have deficient pavements and structures. These deficiencies contribute to Interstate Route 95 having one of the highest accident rates of all of the Commonwealth's major transportation corridors.
The Virginia Department of Transportation estimates that tolling along Interstate 95 can generate between $30 to $60 million annually, if tolls are $1 to $2 per axle. All revenues generated through tolling will be used exclusively in the Interstate 95 corridor. Revenues will first be directed towards making a number of safety improvements throughout the corridor, and then making improvements to the pavement conditions and infrastructure. Once these improvements are made, the Commonwealth will begin making capacity improvements where needed.
Tolling Interstate 95 is the latest step in Governor McDonnell's plan to improve the Commonwealth's roadways. Last week, the Virginia Department of Transportation issued a new Request for Proposals for the Route 460 PPTA project designed to improve emergency and military preparedness and reduce truck traffic on the Commonwealth's interstates.
The previous week, the Governor announced his approval of the immediate sale of $500 million of transportation bonds as part of a plan to sell nearly $2.3 billion over the next 6 years. Further, while closing a $4.6 billion budget deficit, Governor McDonnell's administration has successfully re-opened the Commonwealth's nineteen closed safety rest areas, and will shortly be announcing a plan to implement innovative concepts on reducing the costs of operating and maintaining all of Virginia's safety rest areas.
Following the most difficult winter weather in generations, VDOT has filled more than 160,000 potholes, and pavement resurfacing operations are underway. In conjunction with these projects, Governor McDonnell has ordered, and is in the process of implementing, several significant financial and performance audits designed to re-organize and identify ways VDOT and the other transportation agencies can best meet the Commonwealth's transportation needs.
***Tolling portions of I-95 and I-85 were major components to Governor McDonnell's transportation plan when he was a candidate. To compare what he said then to what he is proposing now, check out our political blog, Decision Virginia.