Poll Shows Support for I-81 Improvements, According to Industry Group

Dec 17, 2018

The Virginia Department of Transportation has a draft plan for improvements to Interstate 81, the vital highway that runs along the western side of the state.

Now a construction industry group says it’s time for legislators to hit the gas.

The poll of 500 voters who live in the Interstate 81 corridor found overwhelming support for improvements to the highway. 88-percent of respondents said they’d favor a $2 billion dollar proposal.  And nearly two-thirds said it should be dealt with in the 2019 General Assembly session.

"Voters are saying yes, let’s do this and let’s get it going now as opposed to kicking the can down the road," said Glen Bolger who conducted the survey.

Credit Jeff Bossert/Radio IQ

What may be less clear is how to pay for the construction. The survey found 61 percent of respondents support improvements even if it means some sort of tax increase. A toll on trucks was the most popular funding option, though.

The Virginia Transportation Construction Alliance commissioned the research.  The group’s Executive Vice President, Jeff Southard, said the message from people who live along Interstate 81 is clear. "They want it fixed now.  They’re willing to pay for it and they’re going to hold legislators accountable."

Southard said legislators have been briefed on the research.

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