RICHMOND, Va. — The Governor of Virginia is pushing a $2.2 billion bipartisan proposal for critical improvements on I-81.
Gov. Ralph Northam made the announcement following the completion of a year-long Commonwealth Transportation Board study. The study indicated upgrades are needed to efficiently move goods through the 325-mile corridor from the West Virginia line in Berkeley County to Sullivan County, Tennessee.
“Interstate 81 is the economic engine of western Virginia, and it’s time we take decisive action to enhance the safety and improve the reliability of this key corridor,” said Gov. Northam. “I am committed to working with legislators on both sides of the aisle to establish a dedicated funding source that will support the critical improvements that Interstate 81 needs to move goods and people around the Commonwealth.”
The initial draft legislation proposes adding tolls along I-81. This would fund a proposed Interstate 81 Corridor Improvement Fund. It would also establish toll rates and give trucks and commuters the ability to purchase an unlimited pass for unlimited I-81 use through a yearly fee.
An Interstate 81 Corridor Improvement Plan was adopted in December.
“Interstate 81 is a critical element of Virginia’s transportation infrastructure,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “Dedicated funding will allow us to make significant capital, multimodal and operational improvements to I-81 promoting safety and economic growth.”
According to the recently-completed study, I-81’s Virginia stretch carries $312 billion in goods per year. 11.7 million trucks trek through the state on I-81 translating to 42% of Virginia’s interstate truck traffic.
I-81’s 25 mile section in Berkeley County, West Virginia will soon be three lanes in each direction with the exception of about 8 miles between the Virginia line and Tabler Station Road.
Read the full I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan here.