Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has made his intentions clear– he would like to see tolls added to Interstate 95, and many drivers aren’t going to take it lying down.
Opponents have set-up a website, where other opponents can sign a petition against the tolls, and a Facebook page for opponents to voice their concerns.
“The campaign is being coordinated by the National Association of Truck Stop Operators, the American Trucking Associations and the Virginia Trucking Association,” Pilot Online reported.
According to the Virginia Toll Free 95 website, the tolls are bad for the following reasons:
Why Tolls on I-95 are a Bad Idea
- The Existing Interstate Highway System Should Remain Toll Free – Since its creation, the Interstate System has been financed under the philosophy that fuel taxes are the preferred method to collect revenue for interstates. Tolling (other than on Interstate segments that pre-date the establishment of the Interstate System in 1956) has been limited to the reconstruction or replacement of Interstate bridges and tunnels.
- The Public, By a Wide Margin, Opposes Tolls on Existing Interstates – In a national survey commissioned by ABC/Time/Washington Post, 88% of responders opposed a toll to drive into city centers, and 68% opposed using tolls to control congestion. A 2010 poll by AAA found that when given options for funding state transportation projects, only 14% of Virginia drivers supported placing tolls on I-95. In addition, unscientific polls of readers of the internet editions of two major Virginia newspapers oppose tolls on I-95 by a margin of 3 to 1. In the Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk) poll, 72% of 2,168 votes, and in the Richmond Times-Dispatch poll, 76% of 1,404 votes oppose the Governor’s proposal to impose tolls on I-95.
- Tolling is the Most Inefficient Way to Generate Transportation Revenue – Toll collection requires a large and extremely expensive bureaucracy as well as capital, operational and enforcement costs. On major toll roads, toll collection costs are as high as 22% to 30% of revenue versus 2 – 3% of revenue for collecting state and federal motor fuel taxes. Even on newer toll roads that utilize the latest technologies, collection costs are significant compared with the federal fuel tax, ranging between 12% and 20% of revenue.Under VDOT’s I-95 Toll Plan, 38% of the toll revenue collected in the first five years will be spent to pay for the capital, operating and maintenance cost of the toll collection system. During the first 25 years of toll collection, nearly 16% of the total revenue will be diverted to pay for collecting the tolls.
- The VDOT/Governor’s Plan Unfairly Shifts Highway Funds from the I-95 Corridor to Other Parts of Virginia “ One condition of federal approval of the Governor’s I-95 Toll Plan is that Virginia cannot use interstate maintenance funds on any part of I-95 that is tolled. This requires VDOT to take interstate maintenance funds away from I-95 and shift the money to other parts of the state. Yet, citizens in the I-95 corridor will continue to have to pay fuel taxes to Washington and Richmond plus a toll every time they use the road.
- Tolls on I-95 Would Impose a Significant Cost on Trucking and the Businesses They Serve in Virginia – The trucking industry is highly competitive and the imposition of an additional highway use tax of this magnitude simply cannot be fully passed along to shippers. In addition, trucking already pays 35% of the federal and state highway user fees collected for Virginia, but account for only 8% of total miles traveled in the state. This toll proposal would impose as much as an additional $22.9 million dollar tax increase on the trucking industry.The trucking industry currently pays a federal diesel fuel tax of 24.4 cents per gallon, a 12% excise tax on new tractors and trailers, an annual vehicle use tax of up to $550, and a tax on tires. In 2008, the trucking industry accounted for over $311 million (32%) of state highway user taxes paid directly to Virginia and almost $382 million (37%) of the federal highway user taxes collected and allocated to the Commonwealth. Imposing an even greater tax burden on trucking companies that operate in Virginia through tolls on existing would be both unfair and inequitable.
- Tolls on I-95 will Cause Diversion of Traffic to Local Roads – Tolls on I-95 will cause diversion of traffic to local roads less suited to handle higher traffic volumes. North Carolina estimates that tolling their portion of I-95 result in diversion of 30% of traffic to other roads. Ohio significantly reduced tolls on the Ohio Turnpike in 2005 after finding that large numbers of trucks were using parallel non-tolled routes that were less safe than the Turnpike. A VDOT study of the 2003 plan to put truck tolls on I-81 in Virginia found that under the toll rates being considered, more than half of the trucks and at least three-quarters of truck vehicle miles would shift to alternate routes. Under a conservative toll rate, the study predicted that approximately 26% of truck miles would shift to routes outside the Commonwealth “ which would cause the state to lose revenue it receives under International Registration Plan (IRP) and International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA).