Two bills to improve I-81 make progress in General Assembly

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — Your stressful commute on Interstate 81 is one step closer to improving. Wednesday is "Crossover Day" in Richmond, a day where some bills die in the General Assembly.

But two bills are still alive that aim to improve I-81.

Delegate Steve Landes (R - 25th), who represents parts of Augusta and Rockingham County, introduced one of the bills, which would look at how to most efficiently fix I-81.

The bill would form a committee that would report back to the General Assembly with recommendations to improve the interstate.

The committee would hold regional, public meetings on how to improve Interstate 81. It would eventually report back to the governor and the General Assembly in December 2019, hopefully to give recommendations for the next General Assembly session.

The House of Delegates unanimously passed the bill, which goes to the Senate next.

"I think for those that live in the corridor, I think it's one step closer to making progress and really solving the problem," Del. Landes said. "And I think more importantly it's the General Assembly's recognition that it's an important priority for us."

Landes knows the process is difficult for those who frequently drive on the highway.

"Oh sure, it's frustrating for all of us," the delegate said.

But he wants to make sure the improvements are done right.

"But this process is sometimes difficult," Del. Landes said. "And to get consensus on how to approach that is sometimes even more challenging."

The other bill still alive in the General Assembly is more focused on how to fund improvements. It will look at how else to raise money for I-81 improvements other than a fuel tax because with electric and hybrid cars becoming more popular, Del. Landes says fuel tax revenue is decreasing.

"We just don't know what's going to happen in the future," Del. Landes said. "It's just happened over the last two years where we've seen the gas tax consistently declining, and it's happening at the federal level and the state level."