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Author Topic: Virginia plans to toll I-81  (Read 13209 times)

froggie

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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #25 on: January 08, 2019, 07:35:11 PM »

Quote
- Between Exit 221 and Exit 317 (I-64 northern split to Winchester) ($511 million)

I think you misread these.  This entire segment is not being widened...just 3 smaller segments within it:  221 to 225, 243 to 248, and 313 to 317...basically Staunton, Harrisonburg, and Winchester.
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sprjus4

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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #26 on: January 08, 2019, 07:48:35 PM »

Quote
- Between Exit 221 and Exit 317 (I-64 northern split to Winchester) ($511 million)

I think you misread these.  This entire segment is not being widened...just 3 smaller segments within it:  221 to 225, 243 to 248, and 313 to 317...basically Staunton, Harrisonburg, and Winchester.
Yep, looks like I did. I was wondering why it was only $511 million haha. So that's even less I-81 widening... if they're going to toll it they need to widen all of it, from border to border.
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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #27 on: January 08, 2019, 08:29:55 PM »

^ Given the cost to do such, it would require a much higher toll and/or gas tax that neither drivers nor locals would be happy with.  The recommended projects spend close to $1.5 billion in order to widen about 51 miles (just over $29 million per mile).  Using that as an average, widening all of I-81 in Virginia to a consistent 6 lanes would run close to $9 billion.  Probably north of $9B when you factor in the New, James, and Maury River bridges.  Even using an average $25 million a mile like Beltway has mentioned in other threads would run the cost north of $7 billion.
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sprjus4

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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #28 on: January 08, 2019, 09:09:12 PM »

^ Given the cost to do such, it would require a much higher toll and/or gas tax that neither drivers nor locals would be happy with.  The recommended projects spend close to $1.5 billion in order to widen about 51 miles (just over $29 million per mile).  Using that as an average, widening all of I-81 in Virginia to a consistent 6 lanes would run close to $9 billion.  Probably north of $9B when you factor in the New, James, and Maury River bridges.  Even using an average $25 million a mile like Beltway has mentioned in other threads would run the cost north of $7 billion.
Well then it's not going to fix the recurring traffic delays that happen in rural areas that so many people complain about. All I'm seeing in this project is some urban area relief, a few auxiliary lanes here and there, and a $30 (car) - $55 (truck) toll on I-81 to fund it. For paying that much, I'd expect a full build-out like what was proposed years back with the P3.

Both the New River Bridge and Maury River Bridges are designed to accommodate a 3rd lane in each direction. The James River Bridges are only 500 feet long and wouldn't be a huge task to widen / replace.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2019, 09:16:08 PM by sprjus4 »
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Beltway

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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #29 on: January 08, 2019, 09:11:46 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 -
...
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.

It will cost a lot more than $4 billion to widen the whole route, maybe twice that.  The $2 billion is a first stage to provide relief in various places distributed along the whole route. 

I say get the ISRRPP slot approved, and then use tolling to get this first stage built, and then plan the second stage later, or sooner when deemed financially feasible.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2019, 09:14:00 PM by Beltway »
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sprjus4

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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #30 on: January 08, 2019, 09:18:33 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 -
...
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.

It will cost a lot more than $4 billion to widen the whole route, maybe twice that.  The $2 billion is a first stage to provide relief in various places distributed along the whole route. 

I say get the ISRRPP slot approved, and then use tolling to get this first stage built, and then plan the second stage later, or sooner when deemed financially feasible.
Kind of what I was thinking along the lines of... hopefully after this first phase gets built, they can move onto a 2nd phase in about 10 years (assuming this starts in the next couple) to widen the rural sections of the route in phases, if not all at once. Federal & state money could also help back some of the project costs to an extent, while still being mainly financed with tolling.
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Beltway

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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #31 on: January 08, 2019, 09:22:09 PM »

It will cost a lot more than $4 billion to widen the whole route, maybe twice that.  The $2 billion is a first stage to provide relief in various places distributed along the whole route. 
I say get the ISRRPP slot approved, and then use tolling to get this first stage built, and then plan the second stage later, or sooner when deemed financially feasible.
Kind of what I was thinking along the lines of... hopefully after this first phase gets built, they can move onto a 2nd phase in about 10 years (assuming this starts in the next couple) to widen the rural sections of the route in phases, if not all at once. Federal & state money could also help back some of the project costs to an extent, while still being mainly financed with tolling.

Hopefully it will be a lot less than 10 years, but simply "breaking the barrier" with approving an ISRRPP toll pilot would open the way for $2 billion in improvements.
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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #32 on: January 08, 2019, 09:25:29 PM »

It will cost a lot more than $4 billion to widen the whole route, maybe twice that.  The $2 billion is a first stage to provide relief in various places distributed along the whole route. 
I say get the ISRRPP slot approved, and then use tolling to get this first stage built, and then plan the second stage later, or sooner when deemed financially feasible.
Kind of what I was thinking along the lines of... hopefully after this first phase gets built, they can move onto a 2nd phase in about 10 years (assuming this starts in the next couple) to widen the rural sections of the route in phases, if not all at once. Federal & state money could also help back some of the project costs to an extent, while still being mainly financed with tolling.

Hopefully it will be a lot less than 10 years, but simply "breaking the barrier" with approving an ISRRPP toll pilot would open the way for $2 billion in improvements.
Definitely. Judging by this project taking a few years to probably get started, with design and engineering work having to happen, I wouldn't see them starting any future phases until after 10 years. It would certainly be nice, especially if extra funding rolls in. Having a 6-laned I-81 by 2030 is the likelihood, but sooner would be nice.

If this, I think third tolling attempt at I-81 actually gets somewhere unlike the previous ones, I see construction starting by 2022, and opening the 3-lane segments by 2025. If they can get a full build-out funded by 2025, construction on the rest 270 miles would likely not get completed until 2030-35 at minimum because the amount of widening required. Plus, traffic would likely be restricted down to 55 MPH on the entire corridor for years on end, and there's issues with that - paying up to $30 to drive 55 with walls up on both sides for 200+ miles.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2019, 09:30:47 PM by sprjus4 »
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Beltway

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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #33 on: January 08, 2019, 09:28:33 PM »

Judging by this project taking a few years to probably get started, with design and engineering work having to happen, I wouldn't see them starting any future phases until after 10 years. It would certainly be nice, especially if extra funding rolls in. Having a 6-laned I-81 by 2025 - 2030 would be nice.

The 2035 traffic predictions are such that they will have a disaster on their hands on any remaining 4-lane section.
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sprjus4

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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #34 on: January 08, 2019, 09:31:21 PM »

Judging by this project taking a few years to probably get started, with design and engineering work having to happen, I wouldn't see them starting any future phases until after 10 years. It would certainly be nice, especially if extra funding rolls in. Having a 6-laned I-81 by 2025 - 2030 would be nice.

The 2035 traffic predictions are such that they will have a disaster on their hands on any remaining 4-lane section.
Edited the above post w/ more stuff.
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RoadPelican

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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #35 on: January 08, 2019, 10:14:12 PM »

I think this is a terrible plan.  A better one would be to allow tourists to pay for I-81 improvements.  After all, I-81 is the worst in the summer months as people come from the NE or the Deep South to see the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah Valley.

Instead of tolls, how about charging a lodging tax similar to what Georgia does ($5 a night) and a sales tax on dining out and Amusements such as the price of Admission to Caverns or Museums in the area.  The sales tax on dining and amusements is how Myrtle Beach pays for most of it's road improvements.

Finally, I think if this plan goes thru the Republicans are TOAST in Virginia, they will become the minority party in Virginia for at least 50 years.  I-81 runs thru a very rural blue collar and conservative area and this would really kill the VA GOP's base.
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sprjus4

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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #36 on: January 08, 2019, 10:51:15 PM »

I think this is a terrible plan.  A better one would be to allow tourists to pay for I-81 improvements.  After all, I-81 is the worst in the summer months as people come from the NE or the Deep South to see the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah Valley.

Instead of tolls, how about charging a lodging tax similar to what Georgia does ($5 a night) and a sales tax on dining out and Amusements such as the price of Admission to Caverns or Museums in the area.  The sales tax on dining and amusements is how Myrtle Beach pays for most of it's road improvements.

Finally, I think if this plan goes thru the Republicans are TOAST in Virginia, they will become the minority party in Virginia for at least 50 years.  I-81 runs thru a very rural blue collar and conservative area and this would really kill the VA GOP's base.
The only issue is it would not generate nearly enough revenue to pay for improvements - plus a majority of traffic on I-81 is traffic that enters from Tennessee then three hours later leave into West Virginia, maybe stopping once or twice to use the restroom, refuel, or get food. They have no intention of being in Virginia, they just have to come through.
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cpzilliacus

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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #37 on: January 08, 2019, 10:51:55 PM »

Washington Post: Next on Virginia’s toll network: Interstate 81
Gov. Northam and lawmakers announced a bipartisan plan to use tolls to fund $2.2 billion in improvements to the I-81 corridor.


Quote
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) joined Republican lawmakers Tuesday in announcing a proposal to toll Interstate 81 to generate money to pay for $2.2 billion worth of improvements needed along the corridor that serves as main street for western Virginia and a major economic artery for the state.

Quote
The plan, to be introduced in the Virginia General Assembly session that starts Wednesday, would establish tolls as a source of revenue for “critical improvements” identified in a state study of the route that stretches 325 miles between the Tennessee and West Virginia borders and suffers from major safety and reliability problems.

Quote
With the proposal, Northam and lawmakers representing the western part of the state are choosing to push a toll system over establishing a regional gas tax to pay for the I-81 improvements and in doing so declaring broader support for expanding the state’s toll network. The state in recent years has significantly increased its toll network, establishing systems along several major highways, including Interstates 95, 495, 66 and 64.
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cpzilliacus

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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #38 on: January 08, 2019, 11:04:08 PM »

I really like the emphasis that VDOT has placed on improving operations in the I-81 corridor, such as expanding Safety Service Patrol (SSP) coverage (freeway service patrols) and improvements to parallel routes when there is serious incident or a hard closure on I-81.

These are relatively cheap and will provide significant benefit to I-81 users and can be deployed quickly.

This describes the planned improvements: Interstate 81 Corridor Improvement Plan (large document, 12.34 MB).

« Last Edit: January 08, 2019, 11:08:43 PM by cpzilliacus »
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oscar

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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #39 on: January 08, 2019, 11:04:56 PM »

Instead of tolls, how about charging a lodging tax similar to what Georgia does ($5 a night) and a sales tax on dining out and Amusements such as the price of Admission to Caverns or Museums in the area.  The sales tax on dining and amusements is how Myrtle Beach pays for most of it's road improvements.

The I-81 corridor is not as much of a tourist destination as Myrtle Beach. For out-of-staters, it's mainly a way to get from Pennsylvania to Tennessee. And Virginia's part of I-81 is short enough to dodge much of your suggested taxes (except for some fuel and food), by planning on lodging and filling up the gas tank in either West Virginia or Tennessee.

Besides, while tolls can be locally unpopular (as illustrated by the failed attempt to toll I-95 in southern Virginia -- you can still see empty trailers along the freeway painted with anti-toll slogans), tax increases can be even more toxic, and seem to require a lot of anguish and hand-waving to make them work politically in Virginia.
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cpzilliacus

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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #40 on: January 08, 2019, 11:07:50 PM »

Instead of tolls, how about charging a lodging tax similar to what Georgia does ($5 a night) and a sales tax on dining out and Amusements such as the price of Admission to Caverns or Museums in the area.  The sales tax on dining and amusements is how Myrtle Beach pays for most of it's road improvements.

The I-81 corridor is not as much of a tourist destination as Myrtle Beach. For out-of-staters, it's mainly a way to get from Pennsylvania to Tennessee. And Virginia's part of I-81 is short enough to dodge much of your suggested taxes (except for some fuel and food), by planning on lodging and filling up the gas tank in either West Virginia or Tennessee.

I can transit Virginia from Maryland to Tennessee (I-495 to I-66 to I-81) and not need to stop for fuel anywhere in the Commonwealth (especially in the truck) though I generally do, because like many others on this forum, I like Sheetz, which has several stores along I-81 in Virginia, including one not far from the Tennessee border near Bristol.

Besides, while tolls can be locally unpopular (as illustrated by the failed attempt to toll I-95 in southern Virginia -- you can still see empty trailers along the freeway painted with anti-toll slogans), tax increases can be even more toxic, and seem to require a lot of anguish and hand-waving to make them work politically in Virginia.

Agreed.  Not just in Virginia either.  There was a lot of anti-toll hysteria in North Carolina when NCDOT proposed tolling all of it to fund a pretty large reconstruction and widening effort. 
« Last Edit: January 09, 2019, 12:09:24 AM by cpzilliacus »
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sprjus4

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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #41 on: January 08, 2019, 11:23:01 PM »

Besides, while tolls can be locally unpopular (as illustrated by the failed attempt to toll I-95 in southern Virginia -- you can still see empty trailers along the freeway painted with anti-toll slogans), tax increases can be even more toxic, and seem to require a lot of anguish and hand-waving to make them work politically in Virginia.
If positioned correctly, it would only affect thru-traffic and not local traffic. Tolling local traffic has a burden on many, whereas thru traffic goes through once or twice, pays their toll, and moves on with their day. Hopefully this tolling attempt will play out right and actually become reality - improvements on I-81 are badly needed and traditional funding sources will not fund them for 10+ years and by then it will be a major need.

Agreed.  Not just in Virginia either.  There was a lot of anti-toll hysteria in North Carolina when NCDOT proposed tolling all of it to fund a pretty large reconstruction and widening effort.
The beauty with that is NCDOT decided to go with a traditional funding approach - now we're getting about 40 miles of 8-laning on I-95 done with no tolls down there. Hopefully the 2020 - 2029 STIP coming out this month will fund more 6-laning on that corridor.
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Beltway

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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #42 on: January 08, 2019, 11:29:18 PM »

The beauty with that is NCDOT decided to go with a traditional funding approach - now we're getting about 40 miles of 8-laning on I-95 done with no tolls down there. Hopefully the 2020 - 2029 STIP coming out this month will fund more 6-laning on that corridor.

Out of 181 miles on I-95 … nevertheless NC is getting its toll roads, two currently in operation, and another planned, plus a tolled bridge.
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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #43 on: January 08, 2019, 11:54:02 PM »

The beauty with that is NCDOT decided to go with a traditional funding approach - now we're getting about 40 miles of 8-laning on I-95 done with no tolls down there. Hopefully the 2020 - 2029 STIP coming out this month will fund more 6-laning on that corridor.

Out of 181 miles on I-95 … nevertheless NC is getting its toll roads, two currently in operation, and another planned, plus a tolled bridge.
Where is the money coming from to fund free I-73, I-74, and now both I-87 and I-42? 
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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #44 on: January 08, 2019, 11:57:04 PM »

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.

6 gantries, with a minimum of 40 miles between them, would indeed allow them to effectively not toll the overlaps. But if the objective is to raise money... (I'll let someone else project where along the 325 mile route to place the gantries for maximum revenue.)

The document linked in reply 38 above has a list of improvements starting at about PDF page 40, but it doesn't seem to show gantry locations...
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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #45 on: January 09, 2019, 12:39:48 AM »

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.

I doubt whether US 29 would be substantially slower that right down US 11 (or US 340 for that matter) would be considering the sheer number of towns along the route, plus the ability to effectively bypass Lynchburg and much of Roanoke.   And effective exemption for the multiplexed segments could be realized by simply, as previously iterated,  by keeping the gantries away from those segments.  If not, I for one would expect blowback from commercial interests well beyond what would be expected from any tolling proposal.  Without universal consensus regarding the appropriateness of tolling existing facilities, VDOT needs to know when to wield a scalpel rather than a machete!  While the "political class" has arrived at the conclusion that tolling is a necessary evil -- the left presumes it will more accurately reflect the real costs of road usage (and possibly reduce automotive trips in the process) while the right applauds the shift from indirect tax revenues being used for transportation purposes to a user-fee based approach (i.e. "we don't use this road, so we aren't paying taxes for it!"  And those caught in the middle (a pretty large segment of the driving public) are wondering "WTF?  We didn't vote for this shit!" 

I've got this strange feeling that this isn't anywhere near over; there will be backlash -- and not just from folks lacking political clout.  It'll be an interesting show!
 
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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #46 on: January 09, 2019, 12:58:13 AM »

Looks like it would be much longer and much slower, so no.
I doubt whether US 29 would be substantially slower that right down US 11 (or US 340 for that matter) would be considering the sheer number of towns along the route, plus the ability to effectively bypass Lynchburg and much of Roanoke. 

US-11??  We weren't discussing that, and of course it would be slow.

Washington, D.C. to Christiansburg
I-66, US-29, US-460, I-81 -- 4 hrs 42 min
I-66, I-81 -- 4 hrs 5 min

Using Google Maps aerial. 

That doesn't take into account rush hour traffic.  Whoville is a major bottleneck on US-29 and will remain so, another consequence of The Punk.  It wouldn't take much diversion before US-29 got seriously bogged down.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2019, 01:00:44 AM by Beltway »
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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #47 on: January 09, 2019, 02:18:41 AM »

^^^^^^^^^
For those of use who aren't privy to VA jargon, WTF is Whoville and who the hell is The Punk?  (Rough guesstimate: Whoville = Charlottesville, while the Punk could be any number of pols out of some parties' favor).  Seriously, I though part of this discussion was an overview of shunpiking possibilities, which due to topology are practically limited to roughly parallel routes (and I'm certainly not considering the Blue Ridge Parkway!!!!!).
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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #48 on: January 09, 2019, 02:19:51 AM »

This project sounded unique, so I found it interesting and read the presentation.  Regarding legal authority, it says "Tolls may be imposed on existing toll-free highways, bridges & tunnels so long as variable pricing is used to manage demand. No formal federal approval process other than NEPA."  It also mentions the three slots for conversion to toll roads, but since they plan to charge lower rates at night, the project qualifies under the demand management provision needing only environmental approval.

It doesn't give toll point locations, but it says they will be between urban areas.  This would make travel across cities toll-free.  It also says "Commuters travel first two gantries free."  I thought about whether that refers only to some kind of qualified commuter, but I concluded it probably includes everyone.  Since there are so few toll points, each one will be quite expensive.  It would be unfair to enter the Interstate and take the next exit a mile later and get charged for 50 miles of road just because you happened to cross a toll point.  Similarly, you could cross two toll points driving as little as 40 miles and be charged for about 100.  They could remove that inequity by charging only if you go through three points.  There's still some potential inequity, but the proportionality is reduced, so that it's in the range of overcharging encountered on other barrier-type toll roads.  However, it then says "Auto Annual Pass could eliminate commuter/non-commuter distinction."  This suggests that "commuter" means "commuter" and that severe overcharging for a short drive will be possible.

The presentation also mentions intersections with other Interstates, suggesting the toll points might just happen to end up within concurrencies if they do charge for passing a single toll point.  It also mentions "near state borders" which has an obvious meaning.

Other interesting points: "Toll rates generate sufficient revenues to finance the I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan; but is not a revenue maximization strategy."
"Establish toll rates and other programs that discourage diversion."  Low rates and possibly lower speed limits and disruptive traffic controls on parallel routes.
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sparker

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Re: Virginia plans to toll I-81
« Reply #49 on: January 09, 2019, 02:38:31 AM »

If tolls wouldn't be charged until at least 2 gantries were passed, the problem of gantries within the two Interstate multiplexes would be obviated.  Nevertheless, with the suggested distance between the gantries themselves, an alternate way to deal with the 31-mile I-64 multiplex would be with one gantry to the north between Staunton and Harrisonburg and another further south between Lexington and Buchanan.  The relatively short 10-mile multiplex with I-77 would be much easier to address. 
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