Public opinion negative on West Virginia toll increases

| 6/2/2009

Highway users are making it clear in West Virginia that they don’t want toll increases, and their voices are being heard.

The West Virginia Turnpike’s governing board heard from about 150 people during four recent public hearings in Charleston, Fayetteville, Beckley and Princeton.

A spokesman for the West Virginia Parkways Authority said the tone of the hearings was negative toward the proposed 60-percent toll increase.

“It seemed speakers were most concerned over the perceived unfairness that the toll road was in their area,” Finance Director Parrish French told Land Line. “Since other areas of the state don’t have a toll road, they feel slighted.”

French said residents used their time to make accusations about how toll funds are used.

Parkways officials have proposed raising the $1.25 mainline toll for passenger vehicles to $2 and the toll for Class 8 trucks from $4.25 to $6.27. Parkways officials said they need to increase revenue by $73 million to $100 million per year by 2025.

OOIDA has been urging its members to stay informed and get involved. OOIDA Director of Legislative Affairs Mike Joyce says truckers and other highway users are against toll increases, especially in a time of economic uncertainty.

Their comments are being taken seriously according to French.

“Public comments have not been treated lightly,” he said. “Our traffic engineers have been re-engaged to examine the effects of at least one change made during this process.”

Comments are being categorized and forwarded to Parkways board members for review, he said.

The period for public comments remains open until Saturday, June 6. Click here to review information about the proposed increases and to access a public comment form.

– By David Tanner, staff writer