Parkways bond ban rejected in West Virginia

| Tuesday, March 14, 2006

A bill has died that sought to stop the agency that oversees the West Virginia Turnpike from issuing more bonds.

The Senate Transportation Committee voted 23-10 to kill the bill – SB432. Some lawmakers feared halting the bond issue could lead to higher tolls on the Turnpike.

The state’s Parkways, Economic Development and Tourism Authority implemented new tolls Jan. 1 at each of the turnpike’s three toll plazas. The rates were increased from $4.25 to $7 for five-axle trucks and from $1.25 to $2 for passenger vehicles.

However, a Kanawha County Circuit Judge Irene Berger last month granted a temporary injunction sought by businesses that use the 88-mile toll route that runs from Charleston to Princeton, The Associated Press reported. She agreed with them that the public did not receive sufficient public notice when the hikes were proposed.

The toll rates were rolled back immediately. The injunction also halted any other increases in tolls until further order by the courts.

Gov. Joe Manchin’s administration has since said the tolls won’t go up for at least a year, The Charleston Gazette reported.

Despite the recent events, Sen. Don Caruth, R-Mercer, said the Parkways Authority could still sell more bonds with agreements that could cause tolls to increase.

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