PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Starting Thursday, residents in Norfolk and Portsmouth can begin applying to take advantage of VDOT’s new Toll Relief program.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, along with several local and state officials, announced the program in late October. It’s designed to ease the burden of tolls for residents in Norfolk and Portsmouth who use the Midtown and Downtown tunnels.
Toll rates at those tunnels will increase in January. The rush hour rate for cars with E-ZPass will increase by $0.45 to $1.95.
In order to apply for the relief program, you must live in either of those cities, earn less than $30,000 a year, make at least eight trips through a toll every month and have a Virginia E-ZPass transponder.
This program will reportedly give qualifying residents a 75-cent discount on each trip.
That discount will take effect after the eighth trip of the month.
“I think it’s great. We need it. I mean, we’re being strangled off over here and if you’ve got to use that tunnel every day, it’s a killer…Financially, it’s going to do a big difference in my pocket. You know, I have to go through the tunnel three days a week,” said Portsmouth resident Maurice Jenkins, who planned to apply.
For three round trips a week, Jenkins would save approximately $230 dollars a year. Deputy Secretary of Transportation Grindly Johnson said Elizabeth River Crossings has agreed to pay $500,000 a year for 10 years for the program.
“This year we may have to tweak the program a little bit. We’re not sure. As you can see, we’re down here today to be sure that this is a smooth program and it runs efficiently and effectively,” Johnson said.
Those who qualify can apply for the program in-person at the Norfolk or Portsmouth E-ZPass customer service centers. More information on how to apply can be found on VDOT’s website.
VDOT says the application period will run between Dec. 1 and Feb. 15, 2017. Toll relief benefits are set to take effect beginning March 1, 2017.