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Rep. Cline 'not a fan' of raising taxes for I-81 fixes, open to using federal money

(WHSV)
Published: Jan. 29, 2019 at 5:00 PM EST
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Representative Ben Cline said he is open to using federal money to pay for improvements along the Interstate 81 corridor but does not favor state proposals to raise taxes.

The Republican, who began his first term in Congress earlier this month, said he does not want to "get in the way" of solutions proposed by Virginia lawmakers.

"But, at the same time, I'm not a fan of higher taxes," said Cline. "Working men and women already pay too much in taxes."

Four bills were proposed in the state General Assembly during the 2019 session to fund more than $2 billion in improvements to I-81 recommended by transportation officials. Two of them — introduced by Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-Va. 26) and Rep. Steve Landes (R-Va. 25) — would establish tolls along the corridor.

One of those has the official endorsement of the Commonwealth Transportation Board, which

to fund $2.2 billion of improvements through tolls.

The others — pitched by Sen. Emmett Hanger (R-Va. 24) and Sen. John Edwards (D-Va. 21) — aim to increase fuel taxes.

Hanger

as well.

Cline indicated he would be open to using federal dollars to cover some of the cost of fixes, either through an infrastructure bill or transportation package.

"We need to make sure that 81 is at the top list of priorities, that widening 81 from Winchester all the way to Bristol is the ultimate goal, but we'll take whatever we can get to widen wherever we can get," Cline said.

State transportation officials

to I-81 last year after studying the corridor.

Local truck companies have suggested the use of fuel taxes instead of tolls, which

would disproportionately affect truckers.

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