PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – The anti-toll organization in Portsmouth plans a boycott against the tolls at the Downtown and Midtown tunnels that begin Feb. 1.
“The boycott is about not using the tunnels,” said Anti-Tolls Organizer Terry Danaher with notollshr.org told. “It’s about avoiding businesses on the other side of the tunnels. It’s about supporting our own businesses. It’s about not going to social events that would take us through the tunnels.”
When tolls take effect at midnight, the self-fulfilling prophesy that Hampton Roads becomes a more splintered community could become a reality. At that moment, the No Tolls Hampton Roads group is asking the Portsmouth Community to not go through the tunnels anymore.
A recent economic study by former ODU President Dr. James Koch shows lower-income Portsmouth will be hit eight times harder by the tolls than Hampton Roads largest and richest city, Virginia Beach.
“We will spend our money here in Portsmouth, so we don’t take our business through tunnels,” Dahaner said, while quoting Koch’s study. “We will shop, pray, and entertain ourselves here in Portsmouth.”
The boycott makes reality the prophesy that the tolls will create a closed community.
“It’s destroying regionalism,” Danaher said. “We could be broken into three regions very easily, and that’s what the professor said, and that’s what could happen.”
Danaher said the boycott pushes Hampton Roads more towards that reality.
“The boycott is about retraining ourselves to stay on this side of the water. We don’t have to go to Virginia Beach, and Norfolk. We can stay here and do things here,” she said.
At www.notollshr.org, the message continues: “The powers that be in the rest of the region need to see an economic impact on their side of the water, not just here in Portsmouth.”
The anti-toll group will hold a protest Saturday at 10 a.m. outside the Ntelos Pavilion near the traffic circle, and at noon there will be a Gathering to protest the Elizabeth River Crossings’ “easiest way to cross” ads. That takes place at the end of High Street at the High Street Landing on the Elizabeth River. If you go, you are encouraged to bring a raft, flippers, water wings, to protest the tolls.