Driving Today

Should I-95 Become a Toll Road?

Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia has proposed imposing tolls to pay for upkeep, but others push back.

As federal money to repair vital infrastructure dries up despite increased federal spending overall, states are considering ways to keep roads and bridges from deteriorating. In that effort, Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia has suggested that Interstate 95, one of the state’s key routes, be turned into a toll road. That would ensure that at least a portion of its upkeep would be paid for by those who use it. But the proposal is getting resistance from a number of sectors, including the trucking industry.

“While it is true that I-95 is one of the ‘most important and heavily traveled highway corridors in the country,’ as Gov. McDonnell says, there are far more expeditious and efficient ways of raising revenue for its upkeep than tolls,” says Bill Graves, president and CEO of American Trucking Associations. “Raising the fuel tax provides revenue immediately, rather than over several years like tolling, and it doesn’t require upfront investment to build a government bureaucracy to collect it.”

Graves says imposing tolls would add to I-95’s congestion or, worse, drive trucks off onto smaller secondary roads that aren’t designed to handle the increased traffic. Proposals like adding tolls to I-95, says Graves, are a symptom of the problems the federal government has had in passing a long-term highway bill.

“As a former governor, I know that when Washington abdicates its responsibility, states must step up to fill the void,” he said. “If President Obama and Congress were serious about creating jobs and improving our roads and bridges, they would quickly pass a long-term, well-funded transportation bill focused on critical corridors like I-95.”



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