The Roanoke Regional Chamber provided the following public comments at the May 10 VDOT hearing.
On behalf of the Roanoke Regional Chamber and the member organizations we serve, I’d like to thank Secretary Valentine and the administration for prioritizing I-81 and taking steps to advance solutions. Improving the corridor is certainly a top priority for our members, and we are glad to advocate for the business community on such a significant issue.
The safety and reliability problems we experience with I-81 are evident, and they directly result from combination of terrain and high truck volume. It has been reported that I-81 supports 42 percent of statewide truck traffic, the loss of one lane leads to 65 percent reduction in highway capacity, and incident clearance times often exceed six hours.
We were glad to see I-81 capture the attention of leaders in the administration and the General Assembly this year. We closely monitored the proposals that were introduced to generate revenue for I-81, and we will continue to advocate for dedicated funding for priority projects along the corridor.
As SB971 went through the legislative process, our primary concern was the impact of truck-only tolling on local industry, and we understand that minimizing that impact has been a key point for the administration from the beginning.
We do appreciate the amended language that will specifically assess the potential economic impacts on Virginia agriculture, manufacturing, and logistics sector companies that rely on I-81.
As the study is conducted over the next several months, the Roanoke Regional Chamber will engage in as many opportunities as possible for stakeholder meetings and public comment. We look forward to partnering with VDOT to advance meaningful solutions to such a critical component of our regional infrastructure.