The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Like it or not, tolls will be a reality in the future
BY SCOTT SHENK
THE FREE LANCE-STAR
THERE’S no easy answer to finding the money needed for Virginia’s transportation infrastructure.
The Virginia Department of Transportation says there is a $10.1 billion shortfall in needed roadwork over the next 25 years.
There is no popular way to do it. Higher gas taxes? Tolls?
People don’t want either of them.
The three recent VDOT meetings on the proposed tolling of Interstate 95 are proof that it’s going to be a very tough sell, no matter where they want to put tolls.
But, like it or not, tolls appear to be our future, and it seems like express lanes will be the leading wave of that future.
As many of you know, new electronically tolled lanes recently opened on Interstate 495 in Northern Virginia.
And anyone who travels Interstate 95 north can see construction of the future express lanes in the median, which seems to be moving along at warp speed.
To see what our future might have in store for us, just look west to California, where many an American trend starts.
This year, two new interstate express lanes opened, bringing the state total to five, according to a report by neontommy.com, a website run by the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. The article reported that there are 14 express lane freeways nationwide now and said that “figure should double, and perhaps nearly triple, during the next decade.”
We’ll be part of that doubling or tripling, with the express lanes stretching first to Garrisonville and then, more than likely, to Massaponax.
So it looks like more and more of us will be adding those E–ZPasses to our vehicles at some point.
At least there’s one person who doesn’t have to worry about tolls—Kris Kringle.
Merry Christmas and happy holidays.
Dear Scott: There’s a small section on Lee Hill School Drive many pedestrians and bikers use.
There is no shoulder and a blind curve where it makes it very dangerous because drivers do not see them.
I called VDOT a few months ago to see if they could do a survey on the safety concern I had and I was told an engineer would call me and that they would need to survey it.
No response, and it’s been a few months.
This is the small section of road on the east side of Dominion Parkway where Lee Hill School Drive intersects with it, near Crossroads Baptist Church and Lee’s Hill South.
—Tang Subkanha, Spotsylvania
VDOT looked at the area and notes that the road layout there is not good
“However, if the writer is interested in future roadway improvements that would support pedestrian traffic in this area, we recommend that they contact the county to consider the addition of sidewalks or trails,” Tina Bundy with VDOT said.
VDOT says there could be funding available for such projects.
If you must walk or ride a bike in this area, be extra careful, or look for a safer place to get your exercise.
Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436