Lawmakers Approve Funding Plan for Interstate 81 Improvements

Apr 3, 2019

Drivers along the Interstate 81 corridor are about to see higher gas taxes and new infrastructure improvements.

“I have a whole 81 corridor plan. If you want me to roll it out I can show it to you,” says Delegate Christ Hurst, a Democrat who represents the New River Valley.

He’s more than happy to roll out a series of maps showing hundreds of unfunded acceleration lanes, deceleration lanes, truck-climbing lanes, curve improvements.

“When you have truck drivers that don’t necessarily know the area very well that are going at high rates of speed over serious grade changes and then when they’re going down grade they can’t brake enough in time and they rear-end a car and maybe you’re the one driving that car,” says Hurst.

Credit Jeff Bossert/Radio IQ

Lawmakers approved an amendment from the governor that will increase the gas tax along the I-81 corridor to fund those targeted infrastructure projects. They also approved an amendment from the governor increasing the diesel tax and truck fee statewide to fund infrastructure improvements across Virginia.

“This is a major tax increase bill. Let’s just call it what it is,” says Republican Delegate Dave LaRock, who voted against the governor's amentments.

This is an election year. So lawmakers had to balance concerns over raising taxes with a desire to improve roads. In the end, they chose higher taxes and better roads.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.