Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Kaine and Kilgore Agree on I-81 Approach

Proponents of a multibillion project to add truck-only lanes the entire 325-mile length of Interstate 81 in Virginia have few friends today, now that Congress has rejected appeals for $800 million in federal money for that concept.

Neither of the major-party candidates for governor voiced support for that approach or for imposing tolls on trucks. Tim Kaine and Jerry Kilgore are quoted by the Bristol Herald Courier as favoring a focus on the 'problem areas' along the highway instead of the multi-billion project of adding truck-only lanes, as proposed by the Star Solutions consortium. The state did get $141 million for I-81 improvements. "What we really ought to do is fix the specific safety problems and be much more strategic about what we do," Democrat Tim Kaine told the paper. "It’s more of a surgical solution than a global solution."

Portions of the interstate have crash rates nearly double the state average, the story says. Rail proponents see an opportunity to push their ideas for improving rail service in the corridor and moving all that truck freight by train. "I think it opens up the ball game again," said Rees Shearer, chairman of the group Rail Solutions.


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