Drivers mixed over fuel tax to pay for I-81 fixes

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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — Would you be willing to pay a little extra when filling up at the gas pump to help fix issues along Interstate 81?

A bill introduced by Sen. Emmett Hanger (R-Mount Solon) in Virginia's General Assembly would add a 2.1 percent tax to fuel in cities and counties along the highway. The proposed Western Virginia Transportation Fund — modeled after a similar revenue collection system in the Hampton Roads area — would generate an extra $20 million for projects, according to Sen. Frank Wagner (R-Virginia Beach).

But what do drivers think of the idea?

"Absolutely. First of all, there can be no economy, no society, without transportation," said Gabriel Morey.

"If it's in all of Rockingham County or Harrisonburg City, everybody has to pay for gas anyway," said Ashley Wood.

"In comparison to having a toll on 81, I'm in favor of having the gas tax," said Gregory Johnson.

The bill cleared the Senate Finance Committee last week, with Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg) voting against advancing the bill.

"While we are not in total agreement about any particular initiative such as SB 583, we are all in agreement that we must address the situation and that significant funding will be necessary, both state and federal," Sen. Hanger told WHSV in a statement.

16 state lawmakers sent a letter to Virginia's Congressional Delegation in January to ask federal help for improvement projects along Interstate 81. President Trump's much anticipated $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan, however, relies heavily on state and local governments to fix roads.