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Author Topic: Virginia plans to toll I-81  (Read 12008 times)

1995hoo

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Virginia plans to toll I-81
« on: January 08, 2019, 12:41:19 PM »

Just got a WTOP breaking news e-mail that links to the following story. I haven’t had a chance to read it closely yet.

https://wtop.com/virginia/2019/01/va-to-toll-i-81/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Breaking%20News%20-%20Wordpress&utm_term=2017_WTOP%20Breaking%20News

The headline is “Va. Gov. Ralph Northam, GOP lawmakers agree on plan to toll I-81”
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jeffandnicole

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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2019, 12:44:09 PM »

From the story:

Quote
Electronic toll gantries are expected to be set every 40 to 60 miles or so along I-81, with regular rates set at up to 11 cents a mile for cars and 17 cents a mile for trucks. That would equate to about $55 for trucks to travel the length of I-81 during daylight hours. Tolls would be discounted overnight to encourage truck drivers and others to travel at less-busy times, but the tolls would be a fixed price, unlike the variable cost of lanes on interstates 66, 95 and 495.

Interestingly, they don't mention the price for cars.  Based on the above, it'll cost about $35 for cars to travel the entire length.
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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2019, 12:45:17 PM »

Basics: $30 annual pass for unlimited use. Lower tolls overnight, but a truck driving the whole length would pay about $55.
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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2019, 01:06:37 PM »

Basics: $30 annual pass for unlimited use. Lower tolls overnight, but a truck driving the whole length would pay about $55.

Anyone else find it odd that an annual pass would cost less than driving the entire length (or half of it round trip) just once?
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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2019, 01:07:15 PM »

Just got a WTOP breaking news e-mail that links to the following story. I haven’t had a chance to read it closely yet.

https://wtop.com/virginia/2019/01/va-to-toll-i-81/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Breaking%20News%20-%20Wordpress&utm_term=2017_WTOP%20Breaking%20News

The headline is “Va. Gov. Ralph Northam, GOP lawmakers agree on plan to toll I-81”
Just posted this in the Virginia thread:

Tolls are the solution to the problems on I-81 in Virginia, per a proposal from Gov. Ralph Northam. Legislation, sponsored by Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Rockingham; Sen. Bill Carrico, R-Grayson; Del. Steve Landes, R-Augusta; and Del. Terry Austin, R-Botetourt (interesting that all are Republicans), will be introduced in the upcoming General Assembly.

Per the news release,
Quote
"The initial draft legislation would establish an Interstate 81 Corridor Improvement Fund supported by tolls along I-81. The proposal would establish limits on toll rates and give automobiles and small trucks the ability to purchase an annual pass allowing unlimited use of I-81 for a fixed yearly fee. Revenues collected would only be used for improvements included in the Interstate 81 Corridor Improvement Plan that was adopted by the [Commonwealth Transportation] Board at its December meeting."
(see https://www.governor.virginia.gov/newsroom/all-releases/2019/january/headline-837634-en.html).

Per the Roanoke Times,
Quote
"State officials previously estimated the fee would be about $30, while tractor-trailers and other large trucks and passenger vehicles without the yearly pass would pay the toll.

"Toll rates were not specified in Northam’s news release, but state highway officials have previously suggested 5 cents to 15 cents a mile depending on vehicle type and hour of day or night. Lower nighttime rates from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. were part of a proposal from the Virginia Department of Transportation. VDOT studied I-81 during much of 2018 before recommending a long list of new lanes, interchange projects and other fixes while leaving the choice of funding method — tolls or tax increases or some combination of both — to lawmakers."
(see https://www.roanoke.com/news/politics/general_assembly/governor-western-virginia-lawmakers-back-tolls-to-fix-i/article_d924cc82-f88a-52f8-bc40-2cd790d8e709.html)


The Interstate 81 Corridor Improvement Plan can be found at www.va81corridor.org.

-----
Bruce in Blacksburg

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jeffandnicole

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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2019, 01:13:12 PM »

Basics: $30 annual pass for unlimited use. Lower tolls overnight, but a truck driving the whole length would pay about $55.

Anyone else find it odd that an annual pass would cost less than driving the entire length (or half of it round trip) just once?

Yep. Which is why these proposals tend to be a bit different than reality (if it ever actually happens).
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kalvado

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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2019, 01:13:59 PM »

11 cents per mile for cars is steep. Penn turnpike is about 10.
 
Basics: $30 annual pass for unlimited use. Lower tolls overnight, but a truck driving the whole length would pay about $55.

Anyone else find it odd that an annual pass would cost less than driving the entire length (or half of it round trip) just once?
Nope, this is plainly about charging non-locals, who don't vote there. As american as it gets these days.
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VTGoose

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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2019, 01:14:36 PM »

Basics: $30 annual pass for unlimited use. Lower tolls overnight, but a truck driving the whole length would pay about $55.

Anyone else find it odd that an annual pass would cost less than driving the entire length (or half of it round trip) just once?

One way to avoid pushback from those who live along I-81 and use it extensively in regular travel, such as people who commute between Roanoke and the New River Valley, commute within the NRV, move around Harrisonsburg, Winchester, et al, etc.

A compromise that probably won't fly would be to make that annual pass "regional," i.e., if you mainly travel in the area between exit 150 and exit 109 you get a pass that covers your travel, but if you go outside that range, then you would pay a toll. For those who range further on a regular basis, there would be a higher-priced pass that would allow travel without tolls.

Bruce in Blacksburg
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kalvado

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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2019, 01:20:51 PM »

Basics: $30 annual pass for unlimited use. Lower tolls overnight, but a truck driving the whole length would pay about $55.

Anyone else find it odd that an annual pass would cost less than driving the entire length (or half of it round trip) just once?

One way to avoid pushback from those who live along I-81 and use it extensively in regular travel, such as people who commute between Roanoke and the New River Valley, commute within the NRV, move around Harrisonsburg, Winchester, et al, etc.

A compromise that probably won't fly would be to make that annual pass "regional," i.e., if you mainly travel in the area between exit 150 and exit 109 you get a pass that covers your travel, but if you go outside that range, then you would pay a toll. For those who range further on a regular basis, there would be a higher-priced pass that would allow travel without tolls.

Bruce in Blacksburg
NYS Thruway has (had?) annual plans which covered first few miles (20 or 50) of each trip. Regional as aimed at commuters, but easier to implement.
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Beltway

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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2019, 01:24:46 PM »

Just posted this in the Virginia thread:
Tolls are the solution to the problems on I-81 in Virginia, per a proposal from Gov. Ralph Northam. Legislation, sponsored by Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Rockingham; Sen. Bill Carrico, R-Grayson; Del. Steve Landes, R-Augusta; and Del. Terry Austin, R-Botetourt (interesting that all are Republicans), will be introduced in the upcoming General Assembly.

They represent those areas that I-81 serves.  I wonder if it has been determined what mechanism would be used for instituting tolls.  The TEA-21 pilot program for 3 state Interstate corridors nationwide?  That was canceled and recycled, so they would have to reapply.  I don't think there is any other tolling mechanism for tolling all vehicles on a long-distance Interstate corridor.  I would agree for having a nominal cost pass for locals (such as living in the counties that I-81 passes thru) and having point tolls for all other vehicles.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2019, 01:27:22 PM by Beltway »
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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2019, 01:25:23 PM »

NYS Thruway has (had?) annual plans which covered first few miles (20 or 50) of each trip. Regional as aimed at commuters, but easier to implement.

https://www.thruway.ny.gov/ezpass/discount.html

I've had the "Thruway Annual Permit Plan" for many years.  Since my commute typically takes me between exits 24 and 27, it only takes me until early spring for the plan to start saving me money each year.  It also means I'll hop on the Thruway, for example, between exits 26 and 27, while I'd likely take NY 5 instead if I was going to be paying extra to use the Thruway.
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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2019, 01:43:15 PM »

Just posted this in the Virginia thread:
Tolls are the solution to the problems on I-81 in Virginia, per a proposal from Gov. Ralph Northam. Legislation, sponsored by Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Rockingham; Sen. Bill Carrico, R-Grayson; Del. Steve Landes, R-Augusta; and Del. Terry Austin, R-Botetourt (interesting that all are Republicans), will be introduced in the upcoming General Assembly.

They represent those areas that I-81 serves.

That was my initial reaction as well, although I don't recall offhand where Augusta County is, and Grayson County isn't directly on I-81.

The car salesman in Lexington from whom my wife and I bought our Saturns is an Obenshain, and he mentioned once that he travels to that area of Virginia. I wonder if the politician is a relative of his?

As for me, I predict a huge uptick for US 11 traffic. My most frequently used stretches of I-81 are between Abingdon and Wytheville (to connect to I-77/I-74, easily bypassed by going to Boone and then south on US 421); the I-64 concurrency (bypassed via US 11, or VA 42 to US 250); and from Strasburg north to the state line (bypassable by US 11, or WV/VA 259 to US 50).
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Beltway

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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2019, 01:50:04 PM »

They represent those areas that I-81 serves.
That was my initial reaction as well, although I don't recall offhand where Augusta County is, and Grayson County isn't directly on I-81.

Rockingham -- Lexington
Augusta -- Staunton
Botetourt -- a few miles from Roanoke
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VTGoose

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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #13 on: January 08, 2019, 02:45:41 PM »

Just posted this in the Virginia thread:
Tolls are the solution to the problems on I-81 in Virginia, per a proposal from Gov. Ralph Northam. Legislation, sponsored by Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Rockingham; Sen. Bill Carrico, R-Grayson; Del. Steve Landes, R-Augusta; and Del. Terry Austin, R-Botetourt (interesting that all are Republicans), will be introduced in the upcoming General Assembly.

They represent those areas that I-81 serves.

Grayson County is a stretch. John Edwards would have been a logical choice. He is a Democrat whose district covers parts of the Roanoke and New River valleys, which are directly impacted by the problems (and possible solutions) to I-81. But if having Republicans behind the plan means it will get some attention then that is a good thing. We can only hope that the legislation doesn't get shuffled to a subcommittee and quietly "killed" with an unrecorded vote to "study it further."

As to the Obenshain family, it is an old-line Virginia family that has been involved in Republican politics. Mark is the son of Richard Obenshain (who was born here in Blacksburg where his sister Beth still lives on the family farm), who was killed in a plane crash in 1978 near the Chesterfield County Airport. He at the time was a candidate for the U.S. Senate and was replaced by John Warner. (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_D._Obenshain)

Bruce in Blacksburg
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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #14 on: January 08, 2019, 02:49:34 PM »

Is there still a rule that Interstates can't be tolled or has that been thrown out the window?
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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #15 on: January 08, 2019, 03:04:02 PM »

I think that is still the case. As for tolls on Interstate 81, that may be the only way to pay for any improvements to the roadway.
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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #16 on: January 08, 2019, 03:31:31 PM »

I also have to wonder if the Republicans in the  I-81 corridor, who have generally opposed all plans for tolls on I-81, may see the handwriting on the wall and realize that the needed to agree to a deal with the Democratic administration, or face a solution that might have been much  worse for their constituents if the GOP were to lose its majority status in the Virginia General Assembly after the 2019 elections. 
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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #17 on: January 08, 2019, 03:32:40 PM »

Is there still a rule that Interstates can't be tolled or has that been thrown out the window?

They can be tolled, but then they won't receive federal funding.

----

What about tolling trucks only, like I-95 in Rhode Island recently started doing?
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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #18 on: January 08, 2019, 03:53:03 PM »

As surprised as I am that this may finally be happening, I agree that tolling was the best and most logical choice. Very interested to see how the public (especially in tax and toll heavy NOVA) reacts...
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Re: Virginia
« Reply #19 on: January 08, 2019, 04:53:59 PM »

Tolls Pushed for I-81 Improvements

Tolls are the solution to the problems on I-81 in Virginia, per a proposal from Gov. Ralph Northam. Legislation, sponsored by Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Rockingham; Sen. Bill Carrico, R-Grayson; Del. Steve Landes, R-Augusta; and Del. Terry Austin, R-Botetourt (interesting that all are Republicans), will be introduced in the upcoming General Assembly.

Per the news release,
Quote
"The initial draft legislation would establish an Interstate 81 Corridor Improvement Fund supported by tolls along I-81. The proposal would establish limits on toll rates and give automobiles and small trucks the ability to purchase an annual pass allowing unlimited use of I-81 for a fixed yearly fee. Revenues collected would only be used for improvements included in the Interstate 81 Corridor Improvement Plan that was adopted by the [Commonwealth Transportation] Board at its December meeting."
(see https://www.governor.virginia.gov/newsroom/all-releases/2019/january/headline-837634-en.html).

Per the Roanoke Times,
Quote
"State officials previously estimated the fee would be about $30, while tractor-trailers and other large trucks and passenger vehicles without the yearly pass would pay the toll.

"Toll rates were not specified in Northam’s news release, but state highway officials have previously suggested 5 cents to 15 cents a mile depending on vehicle type and hour of day or night. Lower nighttime rates from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. were part of a proposal from the Virginia Department of Transportation. VDOT studied I-81 during much of 2018 before recommending a long list of new lanes, interchange projects and other fixes while leaving the choice of funding method — tolls or tax increases or some combination of both — to lawmakers."
(see https://www.roanoke.com/news/politics/general_assembly/governor-western-virginia-lawmakers-back-tolls-to-fix-i/article_d924cc82-f88a-52f8-bc40-2cd790d8e709.html)


The Interstate 81 Corridor Improvement Plan can be found at www.va81corridor.org.

-----
Bruce in Blacksburg
I find this ironic because I literally just suggested they bring back this idea a couple days ago. I didn't realize it's been in the talks.

This is a strong need - as much as I would love to see I-81 get improved without tolling, it's just never going to get the billions it needs in improvements through traditional funding mechanisms. Also, it doesn't put a burden on local traffic as I-81 is mainly long-distance traffic, and larger urban areas have their own local freeways (Blacksburg - US-460, Roanoke - I-581, Winchester - VA 37). Local traffic should also be allowed an annual fixed rate pass for those who have to use it, similar to how the trucks could get one.

Another question is where tolling would be setup? The I-77 & I-64 overlaps and areas between close urban areas, such as between Blacksburg and Roanoke, etc. shouldn't have tolls, instead put them in rural areas where traffic is less-likely to shunpike, and it's less-likely to affect local traffic.

I merged this post with the true I-81 thread since it was the only one that is not a duplicate.  -Mark
« Last Edit: January 08, 2019, 06:02:53 PM by 74/171FAN »
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sparker

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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #20 on: January 08, 2019, 05:28:38 PM »

One question and one observation:  will the multiplexed sections with I-64 and I-77 be somehow exempt (i.e., not installing gantries along those sections)? 

And if all of I-81 within VA is subject to this tolling measure, then for longer-distance travel SW from the Baltimore/DC areas it's likely that US 29 will become the shunpiking corridor of choice, with traffic destined for E. TN cutting over US 460 from Lynchburg to Roanoke to minimize out-of-pocket costs.  As stated upthread, this is a measure designed to extract revenue from commercial and out-of-state drivers (I'm assuming the major passes will be accepted) and minimize fiscal exposure for the in-state voting public.  As far as NOVA reaction is concerned, their response is likely to be along the lines of "well, we pay tolls, why not everyone else?" 
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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #21 on: January 08, 2019, 05:50:04 PM »

Is there still a rule that Interstates can't be tolled or has that been thrown out the window?

They can be tolled, but then they won't receive federal funding.

----

What about tolling trucks only, like I-95 in Rhode Island recently started doing?
Going by memory here, the tolling option for existing Interstates (not counting the building of additional toll lanes) dates back to TEA-21 initiative that offered up to three slots for states to do such under strict conditions regarding where the toll revenue would go (such was why PA's initiative to toll I-80 was shot down more than once by the feds a decade ago).

The three states that initially applied for it never acted/implemented such (i.e. left the offer on the proverbial table).

With regards to RI's truck tolls; the feds likely approved such because the money was going the bridges & overpasses along each tolled facility and the fact that only trucks (semis) would be tolled, not passenger cars or light trucks.  Although, there is at least one lawsuit filed against the State of Rhode Island by trucking groups or companies that could if successful send RI, and some degree, back to the drawing board.
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Beltway

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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #22 on: January 08, 2019, 06:02:39 PM »

One question and one observation:  will the multiplexed sections with I-64 and I-77 be somehow exempt (i.e., not installing gantries along those sections)? 

The TEA-21 ISRRPP would allow the whole of a state's corridor to be tolled, i.e. all of VA I-81 including overlaps.

And if all of I-81 within VA is subject to this tolling measure, then for longer-distance travel SW from the Baltimore/DC areas it's likely that US 29 will become the shunpiking corridor of choice, with traffic destined for E. TN cutting over US 460 from Lynchburg to Roanoke to minimize out-of-pocket costs.

Looks like it would be much longer and much slower, so no.
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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #23 on: January 08, 2019, 06:08:43 PM »

One question and one observation:  will the multiplexed sections with I-64 and I-77 be somehow exempt (i.e., not installing gantries along those sections)? 

And if all of I-81 within VA is subject to this tolling measure, then for longer-distance travel SW from the Baltimore/DC areas it's likely that US 29 will become the shunpiking corridor of choice, with traffic destined for E. TN cutting over US 460 from Lynchburg to Roanoke to minimize out-of-pocket costs.  As stated upthread, this is a measure designed to extract revenue from commercial and out-of-state drivers (I'm assuming the major passes will be accepted) and minimize fiscal exposure for the in-state voting public.  As far as NOVA reaction is concerned, their response is likely to be along the lines of "well, we pay tolls, why not everyone else?"
One question and one observation:  will the multiplexed sections with I-64 and I-77 be somehow exempt (i.e., not installing gantries along those sections)? 

The TEA-21 ISRRPP would allow the whole of a state's corridor to be tolled, i.e. all of VA I-81 including overlaps.

And if all of I-81 within VA is subject to this tolling measure, then for longer-distance travel SW from the Baltimore/DC areas it's likely that US 29 will become the shunpiking corridor of choice, with traffic destined for E. TN cutting over US 460 from Lynchburg to Roanoke to minimize out-of-pocket costs.

Looks like it would be much longer and much slower, so no.
From what I've heard, six gantries would be placed in rural areas that would capture mainly thru-traffic. Areas such as the overlap and between Blacksburg and Roanoke would likely not get tolled.
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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #24 on: January 08, 2019, 06:15:04 PM »

I find it odd that this plan is only a "partial" I-81 overhaul. It's to implement the $2 billion in improvements recommended in the I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan, which interestingly doesn't even widen all of I-81. About 132 miles out of the 323 total would be widened to 6 lanes. Those areas include -

- Between Exit 7 and Exit 10 (extension of existing Bristol six lane section) ($32 million)
- Between Exit 114 and Exit 150 (Blacksburg - north of Roanoke) ($833 million)
- Between Exit 221 and Exit 317 (I-64 northern split to Winchester) ($511 million)

If this is being toll financed, wouldn't it make the most sense to do a full build-out of the over $4 billion in proposed improvements, including widening of all 323 miles? The tolled areas will likely be tolled indefinitely, so in my mind would make sense.

I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan - https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/richmond.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/4f/c4f56a84-ecc6-59df-ad84-a00761c3ae89/5c3521d86274e.pdf.pdf
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