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Tolling I-95 'just wrong' for Virginia, the country, says ATA

Virginia’s application to toll I-95 will be bad, not just for trucking companies in the state of Virginia, but for truckers and consumers all across the United States who will bear the expense of increased transportation costs, stated an ATA news release.

The Trucker News Services

8/28/2012

ARLINGTON, Va. – The American Trucking Associations today joined with dozens of other organizations and municipalities in urging the U.S. Department of Transportation to reject an application by the Commonwealth of Virginia to toll one of America’s most critical freight corridors.

Virginia’s application to toll I-95 will be bad, not just for trucking companies in the state of Virginia, but for truckers and consumers all across the United States who will bear the expense of increased transportation costs, stated an ATA news release.

“Tolls are taxes, plain and simple. Trucks, as well as cars, need to slow down to pay a toll – thus creating a natural chokepoint for congestion, contributing to increased fuel use and emissions,” said ATA President Bill Graves. “. . . As Gov. McDonnell said, ‘If you don’t want to pay a toll, don’t use 95.’ Well, the Main Streets and Maple Avenues of Virginia were not designed for large trucks and the significant increases in traffic that come with diverting traffic off the Interstate highway system. Putting more vehicles on these secondary roads is a recipe for more accidents and increased maintenance costs for cities and counties across the state.”

Graves, the former of governor of Kansas, said while he sympathized with Virginia’s plight, tolls were not the answer.

“I understand, perhaps as well as anyone, the struggles states have in paying for infrastructure, but tolls are not the ‘conservative solution’ to the problem. At a time when many in this country are looking to limit the size of government creating an entire bureaucracy to collect a toll, a bureaucracy that then needs to be paid for from those same tolls, is just wrong,” he said. “Thirty-five cents of every dollar collected at the tollbooth gets used to pay overhead and administrative expenses, while a simple 1-cent increase in the state’s fuel tax would easily raise the $35 million to $50 million the state’s tolling scheme purports to generate.

“I firmly believe that the best way to fund our roads and bridges is through the fuel tax – which directs nearly 99 cents of every dollar collected back into the asphalt, steel and concrete – and not tolls,” Graves said. “Under VDOT’s plan, in the first six years the Commonwealth would spend $95 million just to be able to collect your tax dollars and that is just wrong.”

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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