Regular readers know I have long argued that the best way to pay for the enormous cost of reconstructing and modernizing this country’s aging Interstate highway system is via what I call “value-added tolling.” That means only instituting tolling where doing so provides significant new value for those now being asked to pay tolls—such as for a brand new toll road, new toll lanes, or replacing an aging and obsolete non-tolled highway with a state-of-the-art all-electronic toll road.
Unfortunately, the first of three states in the federal pilot program to reconstruct an Interstate via toll finance—Virginia—is going about it all wrong. The original plan was to create only two tolling points along the 179 miles of I-95 from the North Carolina border to the Capital Beltway near Washington, DC. That was bad enough, but this month the state scaled the plans back even further, to a single tolling point near the North Carolina border. The rationale for both plans was to hit through traffic with tolls while letting most Virginia residents avoid paying.