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Va. lawmaker has alternative to McDonnell’s I-95 toll plan

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SUSSEX COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) - You can't go to the Davis Travel Center Exxon station in Sussex County without noticing the owner's disdain for a plan to put tolls on I-95.

He even encourages customers to sign a petition inside the store (using a loudspeaker)  to do away with the governor's plan that would add a $4 toll for cars and a $12 toll for trucks.

“I’m not particularly enamored with tolls,” say State Senator John Watkins (R-Powhatan).

He says he’s come up with a way to get rid of the toll idea, and still raise enough money to solve the state's transportation problems.

His plan calls for adding approximately 13 cents a gallon at the pump based on a 5% tax on whole gasoline, generating $733 million dollars a year.

If you don’t like the idea of paying 13 cents more for gas, Watkins says it will be offset by a reduction in what you pay in state income tax.

Also, for it to work, Watkins says he’d have to eliminate some tax credits and sales tax exemptions. It includes tax credit vehicle emissions, clean fuel vehicle, bio diesel/green fuels, transportation charges, marinas, motor vehicles, armored car, tax & limousine.

In contrast, Governor McDonnell’s plan generates $40 Million a year, and can only be used on I-95. Watkins' plan doesn’t.

“We have a lot of secondary roads, we have a lot of major roads like route 360 ….that need to be maintained as well,” he said.

The Governor’s Communication Director, Tucker Martin, released the following statement:

This is one transportation plan of many that legislators will put forth before the session. The Governor will review those plans in the weeks ahead before making any specific comments about them. At the same time, the Governor  is also currently considering possible transportation funding ideas of his own for the legislative session. Should we move forward with any legislation, we will have further comment at the appropriate time.