Truck drivers have enough too worry about when it comes to dangers on the road, cost of living and legal hassles. So when government leaders take an easy way out of a budget problem, it usually puts truckers in the lurch first. This is a perfect example. Truck drivers are fed up with the patchwork plan of Gov. Bob McDonnell’s proposal to place tolls on Interstate 95 which will increase costs to trucking companies and eventually, consumers.
To rally support to its cause, the trucking industry has launched the www.virginiatollfree95.com Web site where like-minded visitors can sign an online petition voicing opposition to tolls that will be transmitted to McDonnell. The campaign is being coordinated by the National Association of Truck Stop Operators, the American Trucking Associations and the Virginia Trucking Association.
It comes on the heels of resolutions passed by boards of supervisors in Sussex, Greensville and Hanover counties, as well as the Dumfries Town Council, opposed to the highway toll plan, according to the trucking industry.
In 2011 the governor announced that federal highway officials had granted Virginia conditional approval to move ahead with plans to place fees on the interstate. More recently, Virginia detailed plans for a $4 toll on cars to be collected at a plaza along I-95 just north of Emporia, meaning many Hampton Roads drivers would be spared the fee. Tolls would be $12 for tractor trailers under that plan.
State transportation officials anticipate tolls will raise $35 million to $40 million annually, money that can be reinvested in the highway corridor to help plug an estimated $9.6 billion funding gap over the next 25 years.
Interstate tolls could be begin as early as next year if the state he state plan must still win final approval. Tolling could begin next year. McDonnell’s plan to place rush hour tolls of $1.84 on the Midtown and Downtown tunnels to pay for tube upgrades — collection of the fees has been postponed until 2014 — has elicited local ire and inspired a lawsuit to stop them.