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Local businessman supports funding plans for I-81

(WHSV)
Published: Apr. 4, 2019 at 5:59 PM EDT
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On Wednesday, the General Assembly

to bills that will provide funding for needed Interstate 81 improvements.

The approved amendments will raise truck registration fees and establish a 2.1 percent regional fuel tax for the I-81 corridor to fund more than $2 billion in recommended improvements to the interstate.

One local businessman said he supports the funding methods, even though that means he could end up paying more.

Tom Sheets is the president of Blue Ridge Lumber. He said the interstate is dangerous, and improvements are needed.

"What do we need? We need money," Sheets said. "And if that means it's gonna cost me as a business more, I think in the long run it will save me."

The interstate plays a large part in his business, which is why he agrees with the fuel tax and increased registration fees for trucks.

"The wear and tear on drivers and the equipment from not having a good road surface is an issue," Sheets said.

Sheets added that any time his trucks are stuck in traffic from an accident or other issue on the interstate, that hurts business as well.

Annette Medlin, president and CEO of the Greater Augusta Regional Chamber of Commerce, said the funding will provide needed improvements that will benefit all businesses along the corridor.

"Making a more efficient movement up and down the corridor for them is going to elevate their capacity for doing their jobs," Medlin said. "And so that's greatly important because it's an economic development issue."

Governor Northam's amendment also provides funding for interstates other than I-81.