Toll plan sought by Hampton Roads, VA, lawmakers

| 9/15/2006

A group of Virginia Republicans appear to have worked out their differences to agree to add tolls to some bridges and highways to generate additional revenue for roads and transit.

Lawmakers from Hampton Roads, VA, now will take their tolling plans to their fellow Republicans in the General Assembly during a special session on transportation that is scheduled to begin Sept. 25. Supporters also will push raising another $275 million in local and state fees to fund major construction projects in the region, The Associated Press reported.

The delegation has been deeply divided this year on how to pay for roads, rail and mass transit projects in the region.

A majority of the 22 area legislators gathered Sept. 11 at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA, agreed to support placing tolls on Interstate 64 and other major highways. They opted not to pursue tolls on the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel or the James River Bridge.

The lawmakers also agreed to set up a regional transportation authority. The authority would spend revenue generated by tolls and through state and local fees dedicated specifically for regional highway and bridge work, The AP reported.

The next step for area lawmakers will be to craft legislation, get it through key committees and then win full support from the General Assembly for the funding concepts.