Gov. Mark Warner signed legislation into law over the weekend
that will enable state officials to reach full fist into the
pockets of truckdrivers using Interstate 81 while letting other
motorists pass by unscathed.
signed HB1373 allowing tolls on trucks using I-81 to help pay
for widening plans. The bill amends Virginia's Public-Private
Transportation Act to permit tolls on trucks using the 325-mile
stretch of road from Winchester to Bristol. Cars would travel
the remaining toll-free lanes.
is essential to a private consortium's plan to widen the
state's portion of I-81 to eight lanes and reserve four
lanes for commercial trucks. The consortium's financing
plan relies heavily on tolls.
and OOIDA board member John Taylor of Cross Junction, VA, says
"We need the additional lanes on I-81, as well as other
highways, but it's certainly unfair to ask the trucks to
pay for it all. It's benefitting the people in the automobiles
as it is the trucker. We're not in a big profit margin
business to start with. Many truckers and companies are going
broke. It's not like we're making a tremendous amount
of money. This obviously would be an extra burden on the industry.
immaterial to the trucker how we pay for the roads as long as
it's fair," says Taylor. "Are they going to relieve
us from ton-mile or fuel taxes on that road? Are we going to
be paying the same amount of taxes or more? That's the
question I want answered."
says he also is concerned about the precedent decisions like
this creates. "Private toll roads appear to be the route
the nation is taking," he says. "States are looking
to put future road building in the hands of private contractors
and toll road systems. The trucking industry must gear itself
Transportation Board and the Federal Highway Administration
must approve the widening plan and decide whether to impose
-- Keith Goble