Toll revenue from West Virginia Turnpike falls short; fuel costs blamed

| 9/4/2008

Chalk another one up to fuel prices and other economic conditions facing drivers. West Virginia Turnpike officials are reporting that high fuel prices are a big reason why 2008’s traffic numbers are not living up to projections.

Traffic reports released by the West Virginia Parkways Economic Development and Tourism Authority show that commercial traffic numbers, passenger vehicle numbers and toll revenue declined this summer, and for the year so far, compared with 2007.

“While we have not undertaken a formal study, our recent traffic declines seem to be negatively correlated with the recent rising fuel prices,” Parrish French, the authority’s director of finance, told Land Line.

Toll revenue from commercial traffic on the West Virginia Turnpike was down 10.9 percent for the month of August compared with August 2007.

French said commercial traffic on the pike is an indicator of how the economy is affecting drivers.

“Due to our heavy reliance on commercial traffic, we believe changes in general economic trends are an important component to changes in our traffic volumes,” he said.

Passenger vehicle revenue declined 3.7 percent in August compared to August 2007.

For a 12-month period ending June 30, toll revenue on the turnpike was $55.6 million, a 2.8 percent decrease from the $57.2 million recorded the previous year.

The decline in revenue included a 3.4 percent decrease in tolls generated by commercial vehicles over those 12 months.

– By David Tanner, staff writer