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Record High $47 Tolls Seen On I-66 In Late January

Posted on Jan 26,2018
Filed Under Local Politics , Politics,

Image via VDOT

By Emily Leayman

VIENNA, VA. - Within first days of December when Interstate 66 tolling taking effect inside the Beltway, maximum toll prices jumped to the $40s. Now more than a month later, commuters have seen more record highs. According to The Washington Post, tolls jumped to $46.75 the morning of Wednesday, Jan. 24 and $47.25 on Thursday Jan. 18. Tolls went up to $44 in mid December.

A Virginia Department of Transportation spokesperson told The Post heavy congestion was the case on both days. Additional traffic likely came from the parts of the Clara Barton Parkway in Maryland, which was closed for emergency work.

Toll prices adjust every six minutes, and there is no cap on these prices. The highest prices have typically happened during the the 8 a.m. hour. Solo drivers are charged tolls Monday-Friday 5:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m. for all eastbound lanes and 3 p.m.-7 p.m. for westbound lanes. Anyone carpooling with an E-Z Pass Flex set to HOV-2 does not pay a toll.

The system isn't expected to change—at least for now. The Virginia Department of Transportation has defended the tolls, saying they're working to urge commuters to consider alternate forms of transportation. "I would've anticipated that happening a lot lower than the $44, but it did not," former Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne recently told the General Assembly's Joint Commission on Transportation Accountability. "People chose to pay it, but it was a choice. Our other option is we could just limit the road when it reaches a certain level [to] HOV users. The issue with that is that we're taking away that choice for the people who want to pay it."

Layne is now Secretary of Finance, replaced by Shannon Valentine as head of transportation.

Bipartisan outrage over the tolls has sparked efforts for legislation in the General Assembly. Del. Dave LaRock (R-33) has proposed refunds for drivers paying over $200 per month and limit the hours until eastbound widening construction is complete. "Northern Virginia was already one of the highest-tolled regions in America — now, commuters driving the 36 miles from Leesburg to Washington, D.C., during peak times travel on three distinct toll roads, paying as much as $53 one way," said LaRock, who represents parts of Loudoun County, according to InsideNova.

Del. Danica Roem, (D-13), who represents parts of Prince William County, told Layne about constituents hit hard by the tolls, including a combat veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder who must drive by himself. "That's the beast of the dynamic tolling process: You don't know what it's going to be each day until the time you get there because it's basically volume control," said Roem.

An effort to lower the toll rates failed at the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, which is tasked with improving transportation options on the 66 corridor. According to The Post, Loudoun County Supervisor Ron Meyer had introduced the unsuccessful proposal reconfigure tolling rates, dropping the minimum speed from 55 mph to 45 mph and putting a cap on tolls. Instead, another bill passed to give the Virginia Department of Transportation until late spring to analyze how the system is working.

Drivers can check real-time toll prices here.

Source Patch

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