A pair of West Virginia state lawmakers
say they had no idea a bill they approved last year would contribute to toll
increases on the West Virginia Turnpike.
The toll boosts, approved this month, have
drawn criticism from several legislators and business owners. They say the
higher fees are an unfair burden on southern West Virginia residents and
companies that use the 88-mile highway that stretches from Charleston to
On Jan. 1, 2006, the rate for large trucks
at each of the three toll plazas is scheduled to increase about 65 percent from
$4.25 to $7. Passenger vehicles will see rates jump 60 percent from $1.25 to
$2, The Associated Press reported.
Gov. Joe Manchin said a 2004 law that
mandated a new $55 million interchange at Shady Spring in Raleigh County was a
factor in the toll hikes. The project was included in a bill authorizing a bond
issue of $100 million for repairs and improvements on the turnpike.
Republican Sens. Jesse Guills of
Greenbrier and Don Caruth of Mercer said they had no idea the Shady Spring
project was included in the legislation, or that it would lead to higher tolls.
“That’s the first I ever heard of it,” Caruth told The AP. “We can’t
possibly know what’s in every bill, especially in funding bills. If I missed
this, shame on me.”
“I’ve got egg on my face,” Guills added.