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Spotsylvania joins group of localities opposing planned Interstate 95 tolls.
Date published: 8/16/2012
The Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors has joined a growing list of localities opposed to adding tolls on Interstate 95.
At its Tuesday meeting, the board voted unanimously to oppose tolling I-95 as proposed in the Virginia Department of Transportation's Corridor Improvement program.
With that vote, Spotsylvania joined 14 other localities that oppose VDOT's plan to put a toll on the interstate as part of a federal pilot program.
Officials from some of those localities met in Petersburg on Wednesday to talk about how to coordinate their opposition.
Spotsylvania Supervisor Paul Trampe said in a telephone interview Wednesday that tolls shouldn't be added to existing roads because taxpayers have already footed the bill for them.
He also said adding tolls would create congestion.
"It's bad for the environment," he said.
Fellow Supervisor Gary Skinner likes the ability of tolls to collect funds from out-of-state drivers, but added that he wouldn't support tolls that would impact area residents.
He said the state needs more money to pay for road work, so there needs to be some kind of solution, perhaps in the form of a higher gas tax.
VDOT has considered numerous tolling options as part of the federal pilot project. Its plans call for one tolling station in Sussex, in Southside Virginia, but highway department officials have said there could be more tolls added in the future.
Virginia is part of a three-state federal pilot program allowing interstate tolls.
VDOT has proposed toll rates of $4 for cars and $12 for tractor-trailers.
The department says tolls can help pay for much-needed work on the interstate corridor. It estimates that it will take $12.1 billion over 25 years to fix the state's aging interstate. Several billion dollars have been set aside to do some of that work, but the department says there is a $9.6 billion funding gap.
The officials opposed to the VDOT plan said tolls would lead to congestion on local roads, with drivers avoiding the tolls; hurt the local economy; and waste taxpayer money for construction and operation of the toll booths. They also said that the environmental impacts are unknown.
Asked about tolls after a budget speech Wednesday, Gov. Bob McDonnell said use of tolls is a valid way to pay for roads, and that I-95 needs a great deal of maintenance. "If you're used to driving a road for free and now somebody asks you to pay a toll, it bothers people. I understand that," McDonnell said.
Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436