Service members will pay tunnel tolls

WAVY News
WAVY News

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Members of our military and federal first responders are often asked to go into harms way and perform dangerous jobs for modest salaries. And, as a sign of respect, they often get some well-earned perks — but they will find no relief from the coming tolls.

10 On Your Side’s Art Kohn checked with the Navy Monday morning and learned when it comes to tolls, their will be no discounts.

A sense of urgency is building on and around Naval Support Activity Hampton Roads as the deadline for securing an E-ZPass quickly approaches. Not only will many sailors pass through the tolls on their way to their duty stations, Sailors like Scott Bell will incur added expenses going back and forth for medical treatment at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth — a toll in addition to the one he will pay for his regular commute to work.

“I’d say it’s gonna cost me $2 each way, no matter how you look at it … so, it’s going to be additional cost right there not to mention the fuel,” Bell said.

Petty Officer Bell isn’t the only Sailor concerned about the cost of commuting to Portsmouth Naval Hospital. In fact, it was one of the issues Sailors raised with the Chief of Naval Operations at an all-hands call last week. Sailors were told the matter is being studied.

There will be no relief for the people who drive emergency vehicles for the Navy when they are behind the wheel of their private vehicles passing through the tunnels on their way to work. Like fireman Jason Fawcette, who estimates paying about $1,250 a year in tolls.

“It’s an unexpected cost to some extent, because you know, we didn’t see it coming,” Fawcette said. “We thought we were going to get away from it. We thought the tolls were going to go away.”

Even though he is paid to save lives and property, he is prepared to pay the tolls.

“No one person should be given special treatment,” he said. “We have to pay like anybody else.”

Governor McAuliffe said emergency vehicles will not have to pay a toll when responding to an emergency. But what if an ambulance is passing through a tunnel on a trip that is not an emergency? The vehicles at Naval Support Hampton Roads will be equipped with an E-ZPass until that question is resolved.

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