Following the submission of Senate Bill 1716 and House Bill 2718 to toll Interstate 81 in Virginia, the Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates (ATFI) issued the following statement, which can be attributed to spokesperson Stephanie Kane:
Putting tolls on Interstate 81 would have many negative consequences for not only western Virginia, but the whole Commonwealth. Imposing tolls on existing lanes of I-81 will increase shipping costs for goods, suppress consumer activity, waste revenues on bureaucratic administration, double-tax businesses, divert traffic onto local roads, and negatively impact residents and communities located around toll facilities.
More importantly, while most agree I-81 needs improvements immediately, using tolls to finance improvements requires a lengthy federal approval process that puts improvements to I-81 in the hands of the federal government and will delay any improvements to the interstate for years. On the contrary, a tax increase is completely controlled by the Commonwealth, and money can start being collected much sooner to begin improvements this year.
We urge the Virginia General Assembly to oppose SB 1716 and HB 2718. We need every dollar generated to go toward improving the interstate, not spending it on collecting, administering and enforcing tolls. According to the Congressional Research Service, “even with extensive use of electronic tolling, collecting highway tolls costs between 8% and 11% of the amount collected.” SB 1716 simply props up a fiscally irresponsible government bureaucracy to waste taxpayers’ money on toll administration, enforcement and collection.
ATFI has launched the Keep Tolls Off 81 campaign at www.keeptollsoff81.com to fight the tolling of all existing lanes of I-81.
To learn more about AFTI and join the Alliance please visit www.tollfreeinterstates.com. In addition to joining ATFI you can stay connected by following the Alliance on Twitter at @No2Tolls and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TollFreeInterstates.