Yes, Virginia, your opinion matters on this I-81 proposal

| 4/11/2006

The Virginia Department of Transportation is in the midst of several public meetings on a proposed widening of Interstate 81 – a project that could include tolls.

The meetings began Tuesday, April 11, and are part of the information-gathering phase of the I-81 Corridor Improvement Study.

Truckers, trucking associations and the general public have shown interest in these meetings because of the possibility of tolls as a way to pay for the up-to $13 billion widening effort.

OOIDA has issued a call-to-action to its Virginia members to attend the public meetings and file written comments by mail and e-mail.

ATA, which is based in Alexandria, VA, and the Virginia Trucking Association are organizing opposition to the options that pertain to tolls.

The I-81 proposal includes widening the interstate to six lanes over 325 miles, from Winchester to Bristol.

Truck tolls may be proposed to pay half of that cost, according to VDOT.

The public meetings are 5 to 8 p.m. at the following locations, and include presentations, videos and testimony by the public:

  • Wednesday, April 12, Bristol Holiday Inn and Conference Center, 3005 Linden Drive, Bristol.
  • Monday, April 17, Natural Bridge Hotel and Conference Center, 15 Appledore Lane, Natural Bridge.
  • Tuesday, April 18, Winchester Travel Lodge, 160 Front Royal Pike, Winchester.
  • Wednesday, April 19, Turner Ashby High School, 800 N. Main St., Bridgewater.

The public can view the exhibit items from 1 to 4 p.m. at each location before each meeting, with the exception of April 19. The exhibit can be viewed on that day from 1 to 4 p.m. at a VDOT regional office, 3536 N. Valley Pike, Harrisonburg.

If you cannot make the meetings but would still like to comment, you may do so by e-mailing comments to, or filling out the online comment form at

Mailed comments can be directed to Christopher Collins, Project Manager, VDOT Environmental Division, 1401 E. Broad St., Richmond, VA, 23219.

The public comment period will end April 29, when the study will enter a series of review and analysis phases before approval and eventual construction.

– By David Tanner, staff writer