Although HOH was bleary-eyed from an exhausting 15-hour, overnight odyssey from Florida back to the Old Dominion, it was impossible to miss the bright yellow 18- wheelers blasting Gov. Bob McDonnell’s plans to transform a stretch of I-95 into a statewide piggy bank.
McDonnell’s sweeping transportation overhaul, which includes a proposal for new tolls on public roadways south of Richmond, has been resoundingly panned by everyone from members of the local community — Stony Creek Mayor Frank Jackson has crisscrossed the state in a “No Tolls” truck for months — to Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist. Rep. J. Randy Forbes, R-Va., has been leading the charge against the prospective hike, which continues to wend its way through the state legislature, from here on Capitol Hill. He has warned McDonnell and federal transportation authorities that his economically strained constituents would unfairly bear the brunt of replenishing the commonwealth’s coffers.
“These tolls could prove to be economically devastating to Southside Virginia,” a Forbes aide said of the contentious commuting fee.
An aide to the Virginia Toll Free I-95 movement told HOH the people have Forbes’ back, estimating that the opposition — a mish-mash of 23 localities, 15 business associations, five economic and planning organizations, multiple public safety groups, private businesses and over 6,800 individuals who’ve rallied via social media — picks up a little more speed each day.
For example, GOP state Del. Christopher K. Peace has written to the congressional delegation about the “many reasons to oppose this toll plan.”