Transportation leaders considering more tolls on local crossings

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) – Local transportation leaders discussed Thursday the possibility of putting up more tolls at crossings across Hampton Roads.

The Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission has cited nine locations for new road projects, including the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel, The Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel and the High Rise Bridge. Tolls would go into some of the newer locations. The money would help pay for several road improvement projects.

Some of those projects include the widening of Interstates 64 and 264 and expanding the Ft. Eustis corridor in Newport News.

At the meeting, backlash came during public comments.

“Tolls punish people,” one speaker started.

The elected officials and public saw the astronomically high costs of the projects first hand. The study estimated $13 billion needed to complete the projects. But with current revenues from the state, the area couldn’t pay for it all without tolls.

“We’d hoped we’d get all nine projects done,” Virginia Beach Mayor and HRTAC chairman Will Sessoms said. “It appears now, without tolling of some type that cannot be done. Even with tolling it perhaps cannot be done.”

The study revealed with the maximum for tolls there would still be a shortfall to revenue and costs for the total projects. Sessoms believes the study isn’t a loss, despite the information it provided.

“We now know the toll that would be required to make that project happen,” Sessoms said. “If we can’t do the toll, how much is it gonna cost with our current revenue sources? It’s good information.”

The commission will meet again on December 16 and evaluate which projects they will commission studies.

Click here to read the transportation package that was adopted by the General Assembly in 2013.

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