Toll Patrol: Frequently asked questions

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Tolls at the Downtown and Midtown tunnels start next week, but many in Hampton Roads still have questions. 10 On Your Side took your frequently asked questions to the experts at VDOT and ERC.

1. What happens if you have an E-ZPass account, but for some reason the E-ZPass isn’t in the car or isn’t scanned when traveling through at tunnel.

When possible, the transponder should be properly mounted in the vehicle when driving through the Downtown and Midtown tunnels. However, we cross-reference and reconcile accounts at the end of each day, and those license plates that are registered to an E-ZPass transponder, but perhaps did not read a transponder for whatever reason (improper placement, problem with the transponder, or transponder not in vehicle) will be charged the E-ZPass rate. Please note that the system only allows this a few times. If you find you will be using more than one registered vehicle simultaneously on a regular basis, we recommend obtaining a second E-ZPass transponder on your account. Facilities vary in how they address this issue, but at the Downtown and Midtown tunnels, we will cross-reference the license plates.

2. Where will the toll be?

The electronic gantries are located outside the Midtown and Downtown tunnel on the Portsmouth side. Once complete, the MLK Extension will provide a direct connection from US 58 to I-264. Toll gantries will be located just before London Blvd. and at the ramps onto and from I-264. Motorists taking a local trip in Portsmouth, entering or exiting at the London Blvd. or High Street ramps will not pay a toll. So, if you’re traveling from the Western Freeway Bridge into Portsmouth and taking London Blvd. or High St., you will not pay a toll. Those using the full length of the MLK Extension only (from London Blvd. to I-264) will pay $1.00, and if it’s taken in conjunction with either the Downtown or Midtown tunnel, the toll will be $0.50 in addition to the tunnel toll.

3.  What will the tolls be paying for?

Tolls will pay for the construction, rehabilitation and operations and maintenance of the Elizabeth River Tunnels Project (construction of the new Midtown Tunnel and MLK Extension; rehabilitation of the existing Downtown and Midtown tunnels and operations and maintenance of the entire Project and approximately 51 lane miles of associated roadway and on-and-off ramps).

4.  What if you’ve purchased well in advance and the transponder doesn’t arrive in time?

Transponders ordered online at should be expected to arrive within 3-5 days. If it is longer than seven days, we suggest calling the customer service center at 877-762-7824.

With tolling less than a week away, if you have not yet done so, we strongly recommend obtaining an E-ZPass transponder locally vs. online or by phone if you want to guarantee having it ahead of the February 1 tolling date. You can obtain an E-ZPass at the ERT Customer Service Center, 700 Port Centre Parkway, Portsmouth, a VDOT-managed full-service customer service center, an On the Go retailer or at an ERT E-ZPass On-the-Go event. Please visit for locations of ERT events. Visit for a list of full service and retail E-ZPass locations.

5.  We requested more Velcro for our other car. We have two cars registered to one transponder. How do we get more Velcro?

Additional Velcro strips can be obtained free of charge at the Elizabeth River Tunnels Customer Service Center or at any VDOT-managed full service E-ZPass location.

6. Can you please expand the explanation of the pay-by-plate option?

Pay By Plate is an electronic toll collection system whereby video cameras are used to capture license plate data. Vehicles that do not have E-ZPass transponders will be mailed an invoice for the toll due. Invoices are sent to the person to whom the vehicle is registered. Invoiced customers are charged a processing fee which by Virginia law is capped at two times base toll rate. The processing fee at the Elizabeth River Tunnels is $1.50 per trip, in addition to the toll. Payment options will include paying in person, by mail, by telephone or online. To simplify billing and payment, frequent users who do not wish to obtain E-ZPass transponders can register their Pay By Plate accounts. A prepaid registered Pay By Plate account will pay a reduced processing fee of $0.75 per trip in addition to the toll.

7.  With so many military members in our area – and so many of them registering their cars in states they used to live in for tax purposes – if they don’t have an E-ZPass, will their bills be sent to wherever their car is registered?

The invoice for Pay-by-plate customer will be sent to the registered address.

8.  What do I do about an E-ZPass, if I ride a motorcycle?

Revised answer from ERC: At the Elizabeth River Tunnels, you do not need a separate transponder – a motorcycle is considered a 2-axle vehicle, so the same transponder you use on your other vehicles will work. If for some reason it does not read as you drive through the facility (Downtown or Midtown tunnels and future MLK Extension) we cross-reference the license plates at the end of the day, so as long as your motorcycle is properly registered to an E-ZPass transponder, you will pay the E-ZPass rate. Please note other facilities may operate differently.

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