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9/1/2005
Plan to Toll Every Northern Virginia Freeway
A former Virginia governor is proposing to make all major freeways in Northern Virginia into toll roads.

Toll plaza
The former "transportation governor" of Virginia, Gerald L. Baliles, a Democrat, proposes to turn every major freeway in Northern Virginia into a toll road. In a written proposal submitted to the president pro-tempore of the Virginia state Senate, Baliles suggests that the Capital Beltway and Interstates 66, 95 and 395 should charge commuters 85 cents for every trip. That means the average commuter would pay an extra $442 every year to continue taking the same route to work. Virginians already pay a gas tax and a significant personal property tax on automobiles, among other taxes that are supposed to be directed to transportation projects.

There is, however, no guarantee that the 85 cent rate would last. The cost of tolls on major routes throughout the country have gone up significantly over the past year.

Baliles has an interest in the outcome of the toll road debate as a partner at Hunton and Williams which stands to gain millions of dollars from lucrative toll contracts. In the past, the firm has helped secure toll projects worth $370 million in Richmond and the Chesapeake Expressway linking Virginia to North Carolina.

The plan would raise $1 billion annually for projects that would add much-needed lanes to the Beltway and other roads in Northern Virginia. Because the District of Columbia is surrounded by the Potomac River, commuters who work in the city would likely have no viable, free alternatives to the toll routes under the plan.

Article Excerpt:
Virginia Transportation Secretary Pierce R. Homer said, "It's clearly a thoughtful proposal, and it recognizes the needs that have been identified in our statewide planning processes."
Source: Baliles Proposes $1 Billion Toll Plan (Washington Post, 9/1/2005)



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