July 24, 2012
Trucking groups are partnering to petition against a Virginia Department of Transportation proposal to build a new tolling facility on I-95 between mile markers 20 and 24 in Sussex County. The plan calls for a $4 toll for personal vehicles and a $12 toll for trucks in both directions. Exit and entrance ramps before and after the toll plaza will collect $2 from personal vehicles and $6 from trucks.The National Association of Truck Stop Operators, the American Trucking Associations and the Virginia Trucking Association are behind a campaign to squash the plan, and have created a website and Facebook page to boost support.The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that tolls would raise $35 million to $40 million a year."There's certainly nothing new about tolling," Tucker Martin, a spokesman for the governor, said Monday. "Tolling has been utilized to help pay for roads since this nation began."Dale Bennett, president of the Virginia Trucking Association, says tolls are not the answer. "Tolls on I-95 are the most inefficient way to collect revenue for transportation," Bennett told the Times-Dispatch. "They will create road congestion, divert traffic to roads less suited to handle more cars and trucks and hurt Virginia's ability to attract and retain businesses in local communities along the I-95 corridor. This will be particularly devastating to Southside Virginia, which is already struggling with high unemployment in this down economy."The "Virginia Toll Free 95" website created for the campaign raises concerns about lack of public discourse. "There are far too many unanswered questions surrounding tolling I-95 that include safety, environmental impact, congestion and economic impact," the site says. "There has been virtually no opportunity for public comments or questions."