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 previously announced, the Secretary of Transportation’s Office of Intermodal Planning and Investment (OIPI), VDOT and the Dept. of Rail and Public Transportation have developed their plan to study the entire length of the Interstate 81 corridor in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
As directed in Senate Bill 971, the study team will identify targeted improvements along I-81 and potential revenue sources that could be dedicated to improvements. At the request of the Northam Administration, SB 971 was introduced by Senators Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham Co.) and Bill Carrico (R-Grayson County), and supported by Delegate Steve Landes (R-Augusta Co.) with budget language in the House of Delegates budget bill.
Feedback provided by members of communities, industries and other stakeholders will be considered as team members study the corridor throughout the summer and prepare a draft plan report in the fall. The study will be conducted in 3 phases:
- Problem Identification
- Recommendations Development
- Tolling and Financing Analysis
Status reports will be presented to the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) in July and September and a draft report will be presented in October. The Revised Report with a recommended package will be acted on by the CTB at their November/December meeting and reported to the General Assembly prior to the opening of Session in January 2019.
There will be a series of public meetings at 4 locations along the 81 corridor during each of the three phases of the study. The first series of meetings begins next Wednesday, June 6 in Abingdon. Three additional meetings will be held the following week as outlined in the schedule below.
The purpose of the first series of meetings is to gather public input on safety and congestion concerns on I-81 in Virginia. However, the format of these first meetings will not be like a traditional public hearing where there is a panel of officials to listen to the public take turns speaking for a limited amount of time (3 to 5 minutes each).
This first series of meetings will be begin at 4 pm with a briefing by the study team to be followed by an Open House format where attendees can review various display boards with information about safety and congestion issues in each region that will be monitored by VDOT staff. The public will have the opportunity to discuss the issues with staff and provide their feedback. VDOT does not plan to present any information on potential recommendations, financing options, or economic impacts of truck-only tolls at these first meetings. Those topics will be covered during the second and third series of meetings that will be formal public hearings with a panel and an opportunity for public comment.
While we are focused on the truck-only tolls and financing options aspects of this study, we urge members who are located in or do business in the 81 Corridor to attend their local meeting to hear VDOT’s presentations on the safety and congestion issues in your region. We also urge you to share your thoughts on the portions of I-81 where your drivers experience the worst safety and congestion problems and provide your recommendations on solutions and strategies to address them.
To help you prepare for your participation in these meetings
- Click here to go to the I-81 study web page and scroll to the bottom to access the meeting displays before attending the meeting in your area.
- Click here to download a fact sheet about truck traffic and safety on I-81 that you might find helpful in refuting a lot of misinformation that has been put out on this issue.
Finally, while the issue will not be addressed during this first series of public meetings, it is certainly not too early and we recommend that you begin talking to members of the General Assembly and your Commonwealth Transportation Board representatives (click here for list) about why tolling existing highways and particularly truck-only tolls is a bad idea. Click here for resources and information about tolling from the Alliance for Toll Free Interstates.
Schedule for First Series of I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan Public Meetings
Wednesday, June 6, 2018 – Bristol District
Southwest Higher Education Center
One Partnership Circle
Abingdon, VA 24210
Tuesday, June 12, 2018 – Staunton District (north)
Strasburg High School
250 Ram Drive
Strasburg, VA 22657
Wednesday, June 13, 2018 – Staunton District (south)
Blue Ridge Community College
Plecker Center for Continuing Education
One College Lane
Weyers Cave, VA 24486
Thursday, June 14, 2018 – Salem District
Holiday Inn Valley View
3315 Ordway Drive,
Roanoke, VA 24017