Virginia seeks compromise to toll bill

| 3/5/2002

Virginia lawmakers are considering a compromise bill to a proposal for truck toll lanes to help pay for widening of Interstate 81. The full Senate is expected to debate the bill soon.

The bill to widen the 325 miles of I-81 passed the Senate General Laws Committee Feb. 21. The compromise bill to HB1373 allows the Commonwealth Transportation Board to decide whether to impose tolls.

The Virginia Department of Transportation estimates widening the highway from four to six lanes would cost $3.4 billion and take about 30 years under its conventional pay-as-you-go financing. Construction company estimates indicate the highway could be widened to eight lanes from Bristol to the Winchester area, with two dedicated truck lanes in each direction, to be paid for by tolls, in half that time. Cars would travel in the remaining, toll-free lanes.