Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine has signed a bill into law that is intended to give state legislators more power over whether truckers and other drivers are charged tolls for using Interstate 81 in the state. Another bill that received the governor’s signature repeals Virginia law allowing a toll plaza to be placed on Interstate 95 at the border with North Carolina.
The I-81 bill – HB1516 – requires the General Assembly to authorize putting tolls on the 323-mile corridor. It was offered in response to the Virginia Department of Transportation’s recommendation to widen the corridor that runs through southwest Virginia and possibly charge tolls.
Advocates say the bill is needed to make sure the decision to place tolls on I-81 is not made by an unelected board. It also gives communities along the I-81 corridor a voice in the expansion of the interstate.
The new law takes effect July 1, 2008.
Another bill signed by Kaine revokes a 2-year-old law that authorizes VDOT to partner with North Carolina to erect a toll plaza along I-95 at the states border.
Virginia law requires the North Carolina General Assembly also to approve the same measure. It would need final approval from Congress.
According to an impact statement, tolls could generate $50 million to $60 million annually for each state. Tolls for cars would be $5 with a higher fee for large trucks.
Revenues would be split evenly between the two states.
The new law, previously HB84, voids existing Virginia law in reaction to failure by North Carolina lawmakers to enact a similar compact. It takes effect in July 2009.
To view other legislative activities of interest for Virginia, click here.
– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor