Tolls could help pay for improvements to portion of U.S. 17 in Virginia

| 3/7/2007

The Virginia Senate unanimously approved a bill that could help pay for improvements along U.S. Route 17 in the city of Chesapeake with tolls.

The Senate vote cleared the way for the bill - HB2951 - to head to Gov. Tim Kaine's desk. The House previously approved it by unanimous consent.

The governor's signature is no guarantee tolls will be collected along the route. The Federal Highway Administration still would need to grant the state permission to follow through with the plan.

Sponsored by Delegate John Cosgrove, the bill would allow the Commonwealth Transportation Board to seek tolls for the new $42 million U.S. 17 that stretches along Dominion Boulevard to the North Carolina-Chesapeake line. The route was widened in late 2005.

Supporters say tolls are needed to help cover the cost of anticipated wear and tear on the road if a major landfill is constructed across the border in North Carolina, The Virginian-Pilot reported. Toll revenue also would help pay for replacing the two-lane Steel Bridge on U.S. 17.

Toll rates for large trucks with three or more axles would start at $3 per trip. Rates for other vehicles would be determined after a study by the city of Chesapeake and the Virginia Department of Transportation.