Virginia Editorial: Interstate I-81 funding needs a compromise funding plan: Use a 3-legged approach

Drivers and policy makers acknowledge that Interstate 81 is broken. But it appears that no one agrees on how to fund the fix. See Roanoke Times, Jan. 13, “State legislators torn on funding sources for improving Interstate 81.”

House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert hit it on the head, “Everybody agrees there is a problem, and nobody sees the solution in the same way.”

The Virginia Department of Transportation provided legislators with three possible funding sources to fund about $2.2 billion in capital and operational improvements. (About half what experts say is ultimately needed.)

Here are the three legs of possible new revenue sources — a regional retail sales tax increase, a regional fuels tax, and tolls. A sales tax increase of .7 percent could generate $105 million annually. A 2.1 percent fuels tax increase could generate $60 million. And a variable tolls program would net about $145 million.