Emporia voices strong opposition to proposed I-95 toll

Published: Jul. 17, 2012 at 10:08 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 22, 2012 at 10:23 PM EDT
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EMPORIA, VA (WWBT) - Folks in Emporia want the state to put the brakes on plans to build a toll on I-95. The new toll would be south of Petersburg, in Sussex County.

Signs reading "NO TOLLS" are peppered throughout Emporia.

Will Slate lives in Emporia but works in Petersburg.  When he heard about the proposal, he grabbed a calculator.

"It would be between $1000 and $1500 yearly just in tolls," said Slate.

The toll would be between the 20 and 24 mile marker in Sussex County. It would cost passenger vehicles $4 in each direction and $12 dollars for large trucks.

The mayor of Emporia is outraged.

"It's not fair to put this economic burden on one of the poorest areas in the state of VA," said Mayor Sam Adams.

He questions why the toll plaza would be built in the southern part of the state when northern Virginia gets more traffic.

"We don't have the political clout that other localities have," said Adams.

Many folks in Emporia work, shop, and seek medical treatment in Richmond.

"Don't penalize us. You're not going to penalize people who live north of Richmond who come to Richmond," Adams added.

VDOT said the $35 to $40 million generated yearly from the toll would be used to make repairs on the I-95 corridor and that the Sussex County location was selected with good reason.

"That part of I-95 represents a good mix of local and long-haul users," said Mikes Estes,  Director of Strategic Initiatives with VDOT.

To discourage drivers from avoiding the proposed mainline toll, there would also be $2 tolls at several on-and-off ramps. VDOT said it's considering a frequent user program for locals.

"It'll off-set some of the burden," Estes added.

As for slate, he's already thinking about ways to cover the added cost.

"Pick-up another job or pick-up more overtime hours," said Slate.

VDOT said it will submit an application for federal approval by the end of the summer.

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