VDOT unveils how Interstate 95 tolls will be spent

By Laura Geller - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – We have new information on Governor Bob McDonnell's efforts to charge tolls to travel Interstate 95.  If this were to happen, we now know how the toll money would be spent.

The list of major concerns that toll revenue could pay to improve is extensive.  The Department of Transportation has been working on it for weeks but it still could be years before Virginians ever have to drop some dollars to drive 95.

For Central Virginians driving Interstate 95, the laundry list of complaints is long.  Richmonder James Reed commutes up and down 95 from Richmond to Petersburg every day.  It doesn't take him long to think of possible improvements.

"The markings for the pavement, some of them are ripped off and need to be replaced," he explained.

Drivers aren't the only ones recognizing the issues.  Sean Connaughton is the Commonwealth's Secretary of Transportation.

"I-95 is the most traveled interstate in the Commonwealth," he said.  "It's also one of the most dangerous."

That's why the $1 or $2 per axle proposed tolls would go to safety, pavement, bridge, ramp and operational improvements.

VDOT estimates if approved by the feds, the fee could raise $30 million to $60 million annually.

Monday we learned that could go to updating existing infrastructure statewide including this list:

- Signs: $9,349,600

- Guardrails: $15,013,388

- Lighting: $1,943,550

The department also plans to add new safety features with the money including:

- Shoulder widening: $18,849,600

- New guardrails: $7,096,152

- New/improved media barriers: $22,176,000

While that's music to some driver's ears, this isn't a done deal.  Toll booths on 95 are a long way off.

"It's going to take us a few years to get all the approvals, do all the studies, actually design and engineer and build the toll facility and then to actually construct the toll.," said Connaughton.

VDOT is still working with the Federal Highway Administration on the I-95 tolling proposal.  Officials hope to submit the details for approval before the end of 2010.  To take a closer look at the project list, click here.

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