I’m wondering what to do with the news that the Federal Highway Administration has provided preliminary approval for Virginia to toll I-95. There’s so much that I don’t know about transportation funding. Here’s some of what I’d like to know:
- The funding from this can only go to 95, right?
- How much of the cost of construction and maintenance of 95 is current borne by Virginia, and how much is federally funded?
- Will the income from this toll be offset by a reduction in federal funding?
- Since Virginia traded the right to toll 81 (granted in 2003) for the right to toll 95, what’s the plan for 81?
To take a shot at answering one of those questions, I see that the DOT page about this program says that “[i]nterstate maintenance funds may not be used on a facility for which tolls are being collected under this program.” Are the interstate maintenance funds that are allocated to Virginia based on the number of miles of interstate that we have and, if so, does that mean that tolling 95 will result in a reduction in funding accordingly? Tolling 95 will bring in a surprisingly small amount of money: $50M annually. (VDOT’s budget for 2011 is $3,320M.) If we are going to lose some funding for our interstates, then what’s the net increase in funding?
I didn’t see any way that we were going to get approval for this, but it hadn’t occurred to me that the governor might sacrifice I-81 for I-95. Whether that’s a wise move, I have no idea, but I look forward to seeing the numbers.
Oh, and if you’re curious, there are a handful of places where 95 is tolled already, though none south of Maryland.