Virginia's top transportation official says the commonwealth will proceed cautiously when it comes to tolling more highways.
Federal law allows states to toll portions of interstate highways only if new lanes are added. An Obama administration plan would allow states to toll existing lane capacity under certain circumstances, but Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne says the state is not interested in doing so.
"Tolls make sense for additional capacity when there is a free alternative. Just tolling an existing road does not seem to us to be good policy," he says.
A state would toll more highway miles to raise revenue to expand its road and transit network, but Layne says you can't toll every available highway. Once the 95 Express Lanes are finished next year, Northern Virginia will have four toll roads already. Interstate 66 is likely next.
"Certainly tolls are a part of transportation funding, but they can't be the sole issue," he says.
Motorists have been reluctant to try the 495 Express Lanes on the Beltway in Northern Virginia, which were built by a for-profit firm and opened 18 months ago. So far, the EZ Pass-only toll road has yet to turn a profit.