West Virginia authority considering toll increase

| 12/2/2008

Officials in West Virginia are considering a toll increase to make up for falling revenue caused by a decline in turnpike traffic.

A recent independent audit of the West Virginia Parkways, Economic Development and Tourism Authority showed that turnpike revenue was down 2.8 percent during a 12-month period ending in June. Revenue declined from $58.2 million the year before to $56.6 million, auditors reported. Toll revenue in 2006 totaled $61.9 million.

Operating expenses increased 3.3 percent from $39 million to $40.3 million during the same timeframe, officials stated.

Current truck tolls have been frozen at 14.5 cents per mile since 1981 on the West Virginia Turnpike with the exception of an attempted 60 percent toll increase in 2006 that was rescinded by court injunction just weeks after implementation.

Overall traffic on the turnpike was down between 5 percent and 6 percent for the 12-month period ending in June, officials said.

Approximately 35 percent of the traffic on the turnpike is commercial vehicles.

A spokesman for the tolling authority told Land Line Magazine that it’s too early to speculate about future toll rates, confirming only that officials are considering increases. Any proposal brought to the table must go through a process that includes public hearings.

– By David Tanner, staff writer