Truck tolls, taxes considered to pay for I-81 fixes

Published: Oct. 17, 2018 at 11:17 PM EDT
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Transportation officials presented their preliminary recommendations for improvements to Interstate 81 during a meeting Wednesday at Blue Ridge Community College.

Earlier this year, the General Assembly

several state agencies — including the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) — to study the entire length of the interstate in Virginia and identify potential fixes and sources of funding.

Tolls for heavy commercial vehicles, as well as taxes on fuel and retail sales, have been considered as potential options to pay for $3.3 billion in projects. In the Staunton District, which spans from Lexington to Winchester, 24 of 46 potential solutions have been recommended.

The agencies identified top problem areas by measuring crash frequency and severity by location, as well as the amount of delays.

Comments from public sessions were also considered.

John Crumpacker, who lives near Timberville, recommended during Wednesday's meeting to increase law enforcement activity on I-81 before the fixes are in place.

"On 81, there are people that just ride in the left lane. If it was enforced more, people would obey it more," Crumpacker said.

The agencies responsible for the study reported the improvements would prevent 450 crashes per year and save 6 million hours in time on the road for drivers.

The recommendations presented on Wednesday will not necessarily be the same ones given to the General Assembly before the 2019 session. The draft plan will be presented to the Commonwealth Transportation Board, which will consider a final plan at its meeting in December.

State lawmakers would need to approve any potential tolls or taxes before they kicked into effect.

Comments on the plan, which can be viewed

, can be made through mail, phone or online:

• Email:

• Call: 804-786-2971

• Online mapping tool:

• Mail: Attn: Ben Mannell, 1401 E. Broad St., Richmond, Virginia 23219

Another public meeting is set for Thursday, Oct. 18 at 5 p.m. at Shenandoah University's Brandt Student Center.

Other meetings will take place