Toll relief program to ease burden on Norfolk, Portsmouth residents


HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — A program that Gov. Terry McAuliffe says is the first of its kind in the nation will help ease the burden on Norfolk and Portsmouth residents who use the Midtown and Downtown tunnels.

McAuliffe announced the details of the toll relief program Monday morning in Portsmouth. Several city and state leaders were in attendance, including Portsmouth Mayor Kenny Wright and Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander.

In 2015, as part of a deal not to impose tolls on the MLK extension, Elizabeth River Crossings agreed to pay $500,000 a year for 10 years to help offset the cost of tolls on those users most financially stressed, according to a press release from VDOT. Toll Coverage 

Monday’s announcement is part of the governor’s plan to reduce the financial impact of major construction projects in Hampton Roads. An application process will begin Dec.1 and continue through Feb. 15, 2017.

The program, which will give qualifying residents a 75-cent discount on tolls, will apply only to Portsmouth and Norfolk residents.

In order to apply, residents must make less than $30,000 per year, make at least eight trips through a toll every month and have a Virginia E-ZPass transporter.

The 75-cent per-trip discount will be refunded back into their account after their eighth trip of the month.

“Following my actions to cut tolls in half at the Downtown and Midtown tunnels and eliminate them on the MLK Freeway Extension, today’s launch of Toll Relief is another big step in easing the burden of tolls throughout the region,” McAuliffe said, speaking at Monday’s announcement.

But at the announcement, some people expressed their frustration that the relief plan will not apply to more customers, including Matthew Radley, who lives in Virginia Beach and already owes ERT thousands of dollars.

“It’s got to be a positive, […] but it’s just not enough for certain other people, they need to do more,” Radley said.

Transportation secretary Aubrey Layne described the program as a pilot, and said it could be expanded or imitated as tolls fund more road projects in Virginia.

Transportation officials said their data indicates the $500,000 will last through each year. If funds dry up before the end of 2017, qualifications could be adjusted in subsequent years.

Officials say toll relief benefits will begin March 1, 2017.

You must apply for The Toll Relief Program in-person at one of the following E-ZPass Customer Service Centers. Be sure to bring proof of residence and proof of income:

Norfolk E-ZPass Customer Service Center
1701 Church St.
Norfolk, Virginia 23504
Hours: Monday – Friday: 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Saturday: 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Portsmouth E-ZPass Customer Service Center
4010 Victory Boulevard
Portsmouth, Virginia 23701
Hours: Monday – Friday: 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Saturday: 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Thursday, 10 On Your Side’s Lex Gray investigates more than two years’ worth of toll troubles, and the new demands placed on ERT by state officials.