Toll Road Plan Causes Commotion Along N.C./Va. Border
Posted February 22, 2006 8:12 a.m. EST
SOUTH HILL, Va. — Interstate 85 carries thousands of vehicles across the North Carolina - Virginia border each day. A plan by Virginia to put up tollbooths at the state line and charge motorists $5 every time they cross has the town of South Hill screaming at its own state lawmakers.
"I'm not so sure that you really want to have a toll at your border welcoming people, getting the first impression of your state with a toll booth," said South Hill Mayor Earl Horne.
Horne worries the toll booths would cause motorists to take other routes. That would rob the town of its meals and lodging taxes. South Hill also has museums for trains and dolls, and the restored Colonial Theatre will bring back live entertainment.
Some fear the tolls will chase away visitors on both sides of the border. Counties bordering I-85 -- whether in Virginia or in Warren County, N.C. -- spend lots of money on billboards aimed at Interstate travelers to buy local.
The interstate signs and an eye catching painted water tower are bringing positive results to Warren County. Leaders think the tolls will hurt business now and in the future.
"A decrease in traffic will hurt those chances of us getting motels, restaurants, truck stops in Warren County at the I-85 exchanges," said Roland Bouchane of the Warren County Chamber of Commerce.
At nearby Lake Gaston, toll roads would be an added expense of getting on the water. Marina owner Mike Gregory believes toll roads will hurt business and cut into the number of people who will visit Gaston and Kerr Lakes.
The question is whether lawmakers in Virginia are listening to the complaints. Horne sent a message to all Virginia Lawmakers asking that toll roads for I-85 not be approved.