Politicians Seek Solutions to Tolling on I-66 Inside the Beltway

| December 6, 2017 | 0 Comments | News

VDOT Traffic Info Inside the Beltway

Many citizens faced sticker shock when they saw the high cost of taking the hot lanes on I-66 Inside the Beltway while driving solo.

Rates rose to as high as $40 one-way on Tuesday, the second day the road was open.

Now, politicians are speaking out on behalf of their constituents and seeing what can be done to change the charges.

Several state delegates and delegates-elect have spoken with VDOT representatives with the McAuliffe administration, Wednesday, to voice their concerns.

Delegate-elect Lee Carter (50th District-D) said they first wanted to know how this could have happened. Many understood that tolls would not exceed $17 round-trip, but according to Carter, VDOT representatives told them that was an average estimate.

Carter said that when members of the General Assembly passed the motion several years ago to add tolling to the road, they had the best of intentions. At the time, most single-drivers were not permitted to use the road at all. There were exceptions, such as those driving hybrid cars.

At the time, the General Assembly realized that many solo drivers were ignoring the rules and State Police had a difficult time pulling them over on the road. The EZPasses with HOV Flex were meant to address this, allowing HOV2+ drivers to drive on the road and only single-drivers willing to pay the price.

“It was designed to keep people from getting on the road when the road is full,” Carter said. However, since the fees were astronomical, he said the delegates are “trying to figure out a way to make sure that didn’t happen again.”

In addition to the high costs, drivers are also frustrated that the HOV2 times have changed to 5:30 to 9:30 a.m. eastbound and 3 to 7 p.m. westbound. That was not something that the legislators originally agreed to.

“The execution has gone awry,” Carter said.

At this point, the delegates voiced their concerns, and VDOT noted them. Carter said that VDOT will provide delegates with road data within a few days, and that should help them to make a decision on how to proceed. Delegates plan to discuss their options quickly not waiting for the January session to begin.

Carter said he is unsure if the changes would require a formal vote from the General Assembly, or VDOT would heed their recommendations. Either way, he said they had taken the first step in addressing the problem, and more steps will follow.

The issue is also complicated in that I-66 Inside the Beltway is also a Federal road. However, unlike the tolls to come outside the Beltway, it is not a public-private partnership, allowing the state more control over tolling. Carter said he is completely against public-private partnerships for roads.

Local politicians are also weighing in on the issue, on behalf of their constituents.

Gainesville Supervisor Pete Candland (R) has invited residents to sign an online petition asking Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) and Governor-elect Ralph Northam (D) to suspend tolls on I-66 Inside the Beltway;

Candland’s position was that when the General Assembly delegates did not expect toll prices to rise as high as they had, and he believes a fix is needed.

Read Candland’s the petition.

“We urge you to immediately suspend the tolling on I-66 and develop a rational plan that protects commuters from exorbitant toll-gouging that is evidenced in the current tolling fees assessed to commuters,” wrote Candland in the petition.

“While ‘dynamic tolling’ is a key element of controlling utilization of traffic on a highway, the pricing structure typically includes the recovery of costs for the construction of that tolled highway,” Candland wrote.

Like others, Candland understood the tolls would be no more than $17 roundtrip.

Now, he is requesting that a citizen’s panel to look into how the information was previously presented and how to address the public’s concert concert with the price of the tolls.

© 2017, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

Facebook Comments
Print Friendly

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: News

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

banner ad