12/22/2016Virginia Delegate Slams Annual $23,000 Toll Road Fees
Plan to turn Interstate 66 into a toll road could cost Virginia commuters up to $23,000 per year.
Virginia commuters may soon pay some of the country's highest toll road fees as the conversion of Interstate 66 into a toll road accelerates. In an oped published Monday in the Fairfax County Times, state Delegate Bob Marshall (R-Manassas) calculated the annual cost of tolling to some of his constituents could exceed $23,000.
"Please show me where the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) or Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has determined that the Northern Virginia population and economic user base will support such exorbitant tolls," Marshall wrote.
Unlike most high occupancy vehicle toll (HOT) projects, there would be no free lanes available on I-66 during commuting hours. Currently the road is limited to two-person carpools during peak hours, but under the new plan, solo drivers and existing two-person carpoolers unable to afford the high annual cost would be forced to leave for work well before 5:30am and head home after 7pm to avoid being charged. There would also be significantly fewer free lanes available for use during off-peak hours.
State officials still have not released official toll rates as the contract to hand over control of the lanes to Cintra, a Spanish firm, and Meridiam, a French company, has been negotiated in secret. Marshall, however, identified a $1.50 per mile toll estimate buried in a VDOT report, which suggests that a commuter heading between the city of Haymarket and Washington, DC would be hit with $92 in daily tolls during normal commuting hours.
"The imposition of HOT lane tolls by Governor [Terry] McAuliffe I believe will seriously depress the value of homes in Prince William, Manassas, Manassas Park, Fairfax and Loudoun because the cost to commute will increase significantly as will the cost of doing business for any company that uses I-66 to deliver products or services," Marshall explained on his website.
Despite the amount of profit these charges are expected to generate, state officials have no plans to add any general purpose lanes to I-66 within the next eight years.
"Toll revenue will not be used to add new lanes to I-66 inside the Beltway, but turned over to an unelected board to build bike paths and improve some mass transit," Marshall said.