McDonnell unveils plans to toll I-95
Governor Bob McDonnell has submitted an application to the Federal Highway Administration to begin tolling I-95 near the North Carolina border. The proposal was a key component to the Governor’s transportation plan when he was a candidate. His administration is forecasting a windfall of $30-$60 million dollars in revenue depending on whether they decide to charge $1 or $2 per axle.
McDonnell was very clear in the campaign that he could raise the necessary revenue to fix the transportation mess without raising taxes. It became a serious bone of contention between he and Sen. Creigh Deeds, who refused to make the same pledge.
However, since being elected, McDonnell has faced a number of setbacks in his aggressive plan to raise transportation funds without taxes. The legislature passed on a plan to privatize ABC stores and his hope of using offshore oil revenues down the road, has taken a serious hit with the now uncertain future of the proposal in the wake of the Gulf Coast oil disaster.
Setting up tolls could be dicey as well, and it appears that McDonnell is putting one toe in the water before jumping in head first. His transportation plan called for new tolls on the I-95 and I-85 entrance into the Commonwealth from North Carolina, but at this point he is only submitting an application for I-95.
Here is the language from his transportation plan that deals with tolls:
I-95 and I-85 Interstate Border Tolling at North Carolina Border
As Governor, Bob McDonnell will provide an additional dedicated revenue stream for essential transportation needs by tolling travelers coming into Virginia at the North Carolina border on I- 95 and I-85. These tolls are intended to capture revenue to offset the additional burdens placed on Virginia’s roadways by out-of-state tractor trailers and personal vehicles.
The tolls will cover travelers going northbound into Virginia near the North Carolina border. Public private partnerships will be utilized to accomplish this project and we will maximize technology such as electronic tolling to maintain high speeds on the interstates.
The I-95 toll will be used to help fund improvements along the transportation corridor and the I-85 toll will help expand Route 460 by integrating it with the highway system. Ultimately these proposals will have to be approved by federal highway authorities, but we believe that based on legal precedence establish with Pennsylvania’s application to toll I-80, we have a clear path.
We have estimated that revenue generated from these tolls would be around $50 million annually in the beginning years. We will also evaluate a concession for a long term lease to generate subsequent upfront revenue, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars.
-Bob McDonnell for Governor Transportation plan
Source: Washington Post
We want to know what you think about the idea of tolling a I-95. Weigh in on our online poll at NBC12.com.
You are also free to leave comments below as well.
You can read the Governor’s latest proposal after the jump. ———————————————————–
Governor Files Application to Toll Interstate 95 Near North Carolina Border
Estimated $1-$2 Toll Per Axle Will Provide Revenue for Improvements Along Virginia’s I-95 Corridor
RICHMOND – Today, Governor Bob McDonnell announced his Administration’s first step forward in implementing tolling along Virginia’s border. 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 week previously, 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. Finally, the Transportation Secretariat is developing proposals to address state, federal and funding challenges and opportunities.