In early 2013, eleven members of the General Assembly representing the Shenandoah Valley joined forces to form the Northern I-81. Caucus to address problems with the state’s plan for excessive widening through the Valley. The Caucus held two briefings in Richmond during the 2013 General Assembly session.
In a letter inviting their colleagues to join the caucus, Delegate Todd Gilbert (R-Woodstock) and Delegate Ben Cline (R-Lexington) wrote that “(t)he Commonwealth and our communities can no longer afford the state’s $11.4 billion plan for I-81” which relies solely on toll-funded widening to reduce congestion and fix safety problems. The leaders also “oppose the intrusion on private property rights and negative impacts to Shenandoah Valley farmland, historic sites, and Main Street communities projected in the current plan.” . The 2007 Plan for I-81, approved by VDOT and the Federal Highway Administration, calls for tolls on cars and trucks as the major funding mechanism.
These same legislators, or predecessors from their districts, worked together in 2008 to ensure that tolls were not imposed on I-81 without approval from the General Assembly.