The Federal Highway Administration gave Virginia a “yellow light” to proceed with plans to place a controversial toll on Interstate 95 near North Carolina.
The agency gave Virginia conditional provisional approval, requiring further study by the Virginia Department of Transportation before tolling on I-95 may begin.
The FHWA also rescinded its preliminary approval for a toll on I-81 in the western part of Virginia, shifting attention to the more heavily traveled eastern highway. The FHWA gave Virginia a slot in the Interstate Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Pilot Program, a project that gives three states authority to toll Interstates.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell called the FHWA decision “a major step toward funding critical capacity and infrastructure improvements needed in this corridor.”
Earlier this year, Virginia’s legislature passed a $4 billion, three-year transportation spending plan. Tolling I-95 will help the state “leverage” that plan, McDonnell said.
The commonwealth could raise more than $250 million in the first five years of tolling and $50 million in each ensuing year, the Republican governor, said. That revenue would help fund capacity expansion, operational improvements, safety improvements and pavement reconstruction along I-95, he said.
Specific projects include widening I-95 between the I-295 beltway around Richmond and North Carolina and enhancing intelligent transportation systems. Virginia is also eyeing over-height detectors on bridges, shoulder widening, the installation of guardrails and improvement pavement on 700 lane-miles.