SUSSEX COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) - Monday night, 30 minutes before VDOT met with residents in Sussex and surrounding areas who don’t want a toll plaza in their backyard, those residents held a rally outside the high school vowing to make Governor Bob McDonnell drop any toll plans.
“What part of no tolls do they not understand?" asked Stony Creek Mayor Frank Jackson. "We are economically challenged. It's a poor community.”
In front of about 200 people from Greenville, Sussex, Emporia and Prince George Counties, Mike Estes with VDOT said a toll on Interstate 95 in Jarrett made sense because 80 percent of the traffic there is from out of state. At $4.00 per car and $12 per truck, the governor said that’s a lot of money going towards reducing VDOT’S budget deficit.
Estes said the toll would generate $155 million dollars in six years.
To sweeten the deal for hard presses communities surrounding the tolls, VDOT proposed three discount plans for locals:
- A flat rate of 65 cents per trip
- $4 for the first five trips, and 25 cents thereafter
- $30 for 6 months, and 55 cents thereafter
The discount would only go to locals, not the estimated 21,800 people who travel from nearby cities to Emporia or Sussex for work or other reasons.
That has some asking why businesses would choose Emporia or Sussex to set up shop?
"What does the toll road do in terms of impairing future development?” said Barry Steinberg, working with residents who oppose the toll.
People in the crowd asked VDOT about highway 301, an alternative to I-95. Should drivers hop on to 301 to avoid tolls, how can the localities afford emergency crews in the event of accidents?
"We don't have that kind of money in this county. We don't,” said Kevin Baker, a resident who opposes the tolls.
Estes said his staff is studying that potential impact; Monday’s meeting was just to get feedback from the public.
“Based on the input we get tonight, we'll eventually refine the proposals,” he said.
VDOT has scheduled two other meetings.
The next one will be on Wednesday at the John Tyler Community College in Chester from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. And the final meeting will be on Monday, Dec. 17 at the VDOT Fredericksburg District in Fredericksburg from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.