The American Trucking Associations today, Sept. 25, applauded the Virginia Department of Transportation for following public sentiment and withdrawing from plans to build tolled truck-only lanes on Interstate 81.
“We’re pleased that VDOT has changed its direction and moved away from tolled truck lanes,” says Bill Graves, ATA president and chief executive officer. “Toll lanes create two classes of drivers. Those who can afford to pay a toll and those who can not. This causes traffic diversion to other, often less safe, roads. Therefore, it was not something we could support.”
The STAR Solutions consortium four years ago proposed the construction of tolled truck lanes along I-81 as a means of managing traffic and as part of a comprehensive I-81 improvement strategy. Under STAR’s plan, passenger vehicles would operate on existing toll-free lanes, while trucks paid tolls starting at 37 cents per mile to use the 325-mile highway. ATA and the Virginia Trucking Association led opposition through a strong grassroots effort and public relations campaign, which was conducted in conjunction with Smart Solutions, a broad-based coalition founded by the two associations.
VDOT said it changed its position on tolled truck-only lanes after planning studies and public involvement activities indicated that future traffic estimates for numbers of cars and trucks on I-81 did not support building a separate roadway for trucks. To meet additional capacity needs, VDOT said it would look at limited lane expansion, rail improvements, truck climbing lanes, longer on- and off-ramps at interchanges, and greater use of technology.