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Commonwealth's Counties

Effort to secure funding to fix I-81 runs out of gas

In the closing days of the legislative session, lawmakers and representatives from the Northam administration attempted to craft a compromise to a secure a new funding stream to address a more than $2 billion plan to remove bottlenecks on the Interstate 81 corridor. However, ultimately conferees for HB 2718 (Landes) and SB 1716 (Obenshain) were unable to muster support for raising the necessary revenue to implement the Interstate 81 Corridor Improvement Plan.

As introduced the bills authorized the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) to impose tolls along I-81 to finance improvements. But the legislation was modified in both chambers to remove the tolling authority and create a committee to further study the improvement plan and report to next year’s legislature recommendations to implement it.

In a floor speech late last week, Delegate Steve Landes cited opposition from the Virginia Manufacturers Association and those in the trucking industry for scuttling proposals to broker a deal to secure a new funding source.

Both bills now head to the Governor and the potential for a last ditch effort to continue negotiations should he propose amendments for consideration when the legislature reconvenes in April for the veto session.

VACo Contact: Joe Lerch, AICP

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