The Federal Highway Administration has granted the Virginia Dept. of Transportation preliminary approval to toll I-95, Gov. Bob McDonnell announced Monday.
The approval is a "major step toward funding critical capacity and infrastructure improvements needed in this corridor" said McDonnell of the heavily traveled highway.He said the Commonwealth could not be a leader in economic development and job creation if transportation needs were not addressed.
It will be at least two years before tolls go into effect. One or two toll plazas could be installed south of Fredericksburg on I-95. The fee will be about $1 per axel.
Preliminarily, VDOT estimates it could generate $250 million over the first five years of the toll program and more than $50 million annually thereafter.
Revenues could help fund capacity expansion, operational improvements, safety improvements, as well as pavement and structure reconstruction throughout the corridor, a news release stated.
"We were just talking about the $11 in tolls we paid on the way up, so if they put up tolls here, oh my goodness," said Cathy Matson, who lives in North Carolina but visits her mother in Pennsylvania regularly.
Currently, the entire I-95 corridor has a "D" for level of service while other urban portions average an "F" during peak periods, Secretary of Transportation Sean T. Connaughton said.
By granting VDOT conditional provisional approval, the U.S. Transportation Department is reserving a slot in the Interstate Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Pilot Program, the release said. The program is a federal demonstration program that provides authority for only three states to toll Interstate facilities.
The Virginia Department of Transportation still has to do several studies on the impact of tolls before the federal government would sign off. There will be a chance for the public to weigh in.