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Virginia receives conditional approval for I-95 tolls

Monday - 9/19/2011, 2:24pm  ET

Hank Silverberg,

WASHINGTON - Start saving your quarters now, or get an E-ZPass. It looks like tolls are coming to Interstate 95.

The federal government has given Virginia preliminary permission to put tolls on I-95 in order to raise money specifically for repair and maintenance of the highway. The tolls would be imposed under the Interstate Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Pilot Program, which allows three states to impose tolls on interstate highways.

"We'd be looking someplace south of Fredericksburg, north of the North Carolina border" for the tolls, Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton says.

With tolls at about $2 per car, Connaughton says an estimated $250 million could be raised during the first five years of the program. About $50 million could be raised each year afterward.

"All the money generated by placing the tolls on that interstate must be used on that corridor," Connaughton says. "It cannot be moved to any other corridor or any other interstate."

It could take two years to get the program in place. To receive full approval, the Virginia Department of Transportation must satisfy statutory provisions of the Interstate Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Pilot Program.

No tolls are planned along the congested part of I-95 north of Fredericksburg in Virginia. A similar approval to put tolls on parts of Interstate 81 will be rescinded as part of the I-95 decision.

The money raised from the tolls may be used for bridge enhancements, roadway and shoulder widening, guardrail installation and paving more than 700 miles of lanes along the I-95 corridor from North Carolina through Northern Virginia.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow Hank Silverberg and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2011 by WTOP and The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)