The Virginia Trucking Association's #1 issue for 2018 is the Study of I-81 Improvements and Truck-Only Tolls! Please read this important update and clarification about the upcoming series of public meetings and commit to getting involved in support of the VTA's efforts on your behalf!
As a reminder, the first series of I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan public meetings continue this week:
Tuesday, June 12, 2018 - Staunton District (north)
Wednesday, June 13, 2018 - Staunton District (south)
Blue Ridge Community College
Plecker Center for Continuing Education
Thursday, June 14, 2018 - Salem District
This first series of meetings is focused on identifying specific issues along the corridor to be addressed, with focus on crash frequency, crash severity, hours of delay and incidents that close interstate travel lanes for time periods longer than one hour. Meeting attendees will be able to place color-coded stickers to highlight areas of concern on interactive project boards with maps of sections of I-81 in each VDOT District. A preview of these and other meeting documents are now available for viewing on the study website at http://www.ctb.virginia.gov/projects/major_projects/i-81_study.asp.
The meetings will begin with a brief presentation at 4 p.m. followed by an open house format through 7 p.m., which will allow attendees to speak one-on-one with study team members, ask questions, provide written comments and use the interactive project boards available to identify specific areas of concern.
VDOT is not presenting any information on potential recommendations, financing options, or economic impacts of truck-only tolls at this first series of meetings. Those topics will be addressed during two more series of meetings along the corridor with additional opportunities for formal public comments to be received. The second series of meetings on dates to be determined in August will focus on targeted solutions and potential revenue sources, including truck-only tolls. The final series on dates to be determined in October will cover recommended packages of improvements.
As best as we could tell, Mike Tate of K-VA-T Food Stores and Dale Bennett of the VTA were the only two trucking representatives to attend the first meeting in Abindgon last week. It is very important that representatives of the trucking industry have a good showing at the next three meetings. You can bet there will be plenty of attendees who will complain about trucks and say that trucking is the number one problem on 81. The Bristol, Virginia newspaper ran an article about the first meeting and is polling its readers on what they think is the largest problem facing traffic on I-81. Thus far, "commercial truck traffic" is the number 1 response with 229 votes. In comparison, the second highest response is "interstate construction" with 62 votes. (Click here to read the article from the Bristol Herald Courier). We strongly recommend that you visit the project web page and review the displays for your local meeting. Then come out to the meeting and share your thoughts on the worst safety and congestion areas on I-81 and your ideas on how to address them. Input from professional truck drivers who travel the corridor will be especially valuable in this process.