Local conservation groups are cheering state legislators for filing a bill to hopefully ban tolls on Interstate 81. Tolls have been proposed to provide $11 billion for an improvement plan VDOT has to widen the entire length of Interstate 81.
Rosemary Wallinger says she doesn't want to see Interstate 81 widened everywhere despite traffic problems. She believes in land conservation, such as saving Valley battlefields.
"Transportation today is about more than roads. We're about more than roads, multi-model solutions to this plan, and we do support improvements, just not the scale thats currently proposed," says Wallinger.
She says that 81 would be the only rural interstate to have tolls. However, the road is just too important to Valley residents and businesses.
"In addition to being an interstate for many citizens who live in the Shenandoah Valley, it's Main Street, whether we like it or not. We have industries along this highway, the poultry industry, other industries that are having a hard enough time already," says Wallinger.
Delegate Chris Saxman says the bill could go either way when it goes through committees, because interstate projects have to get funded somehow.
"We've had bills that have banned trucks, saying cars only or applying tolls only to trucks which is problematic. If they're applied equitably they might be receive more favor in the General Assembly," says Saxman.
Some residents hope that if the toll ban passes in the General Assembly, it will cut off funding to the $11 billion widening and improvement project and Wallinger says that could keep the plan from ever going through.