McAuliffe: Initial toll rates will be cut in half for HR tunnel projects
Reduced rates take effect when tolling begins Feb. 1
1/15/2014, 4:23 p.m.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe has announced that initial tolls on the Midtown/Downtown tunnels in Hampton Roads will be lowered by half the level expected, with tolling beginning Feb. 1. Toll rates, overall, will remain lower than what was originally planned for the construction of the $2.1 billion Elizabeth River Tunnels project. Construction includes building a new Midtown Tunnel tube, rehabilitating the existing Midtown and Downtown tunnels and extending the Martin Luther King Boulevard.
“Lowering tolls on the Midtown/Downtown tunnels project is a significant priority of my administration and I pledged to act on it right away,” said Gov. McAuliffe. “I immediately directed Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne to take the lead on reducing the tolls so they would lessen the financial burden on commuters and businesses who use the tunnels every day. Today, we have a plan in place to bring relief once tolling begins next month. This is a critical project that must be built to reduce congestion, improve safety and propel economic opportunities for the region. But we must execute it in a way that does not threaten business growth in the region or lessen the quality of life for Hampton Roads’ residents and our workforce.”
The Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) adopted a resolution that reduces the tolls through construction. The revised schedule is below:
· From Feb. 1 through the end of this year, the off-peak rate for passenger vehicles will be 75-cents, down from $1.59; and the peak-hour toll rate will be $1, down from $1.84.
· In 2015, the off-peak toll rate will go up to $1, and the peak-hour rate will be $1.25.
· In 2016, the off-peak toll rate will be $1.25, and the peak-hour rate will be $1.50.
· In 2017 or upon substantial completion of the new Midtown Tunnel, the rates will be in accordance with the comprehensive agreement between the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and Elizabeth River Crossings (ERC).
· Tolls for tractor-trailer trucks will be reduced in a similar manner. The off-peak rate will be $2.25 beginning Feb. 1, and the peak-hour rate will be $4.
Transportation Secretary and Chairman of the CTB Aubrey Layne said, “Reducing tolls is a critically important issue for the residents of Hampton Roads and has been my key priority. We’ve taken a hard look at all options and I am pleased that we have come up with a toll revision plan that the Commonwealth can afford, and that makes sense for Hampton Roads during the construction of this project.”
Implementing the toll revision plan will cost the Commonwealth $82.5 million. This will come from a combination of bonds and other funds that have not been assigned to specific transportation projects.
“VDOT is working closely with ERC to develop this project so it will bring short- and long-term benefits to the region, including faster travel times, reduced congestion and improved safety,” said VDOT Commissioner Charlie Kilpatrick. “The Norfolk and Portsmouth area will have a better transportation system as a result, supporting jobs and economic opportunities.”