Virginia state lawmaker pursues effort to curb I-66 toll plan

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 11/24/2015

If a Virginia state lawmaker gets his way, tolls would be prohibited along a portion of Interstate 66. Gov. Terry McAuliffe is pursuing plans to add tolls in 2017 inside the Capital Beltway.

Delegate Jim LeMunyon, R-Loudoun, is calling for tolls to be off limits along the heavily traveled thoroughfare. Specifically, he wants them prohibited east of mile marker 67.

In a July letter to Transportation Secretary Aubrey Lane, LeMunyon asked the agency to terminate plans to charge single drivers to use car pool lanes during rush hour. The tolls would fund walking trails, bike paths and other multimodal projects inside the Beltway.

He added that the Democratic governor’s plan would not add vehicle capacity.

“Gov. McAuliffe’s plan to toll I-66 inside the Beltway would do little to reduce congestion on one of the most congested roads in our region,” LeMunyon said in prepared remarks.

LeMunyon also voiced concern that the plan does not include details on the price of tolls nor the impact of tolls on traffic volume and congestion on I-66.

“Depending on yet unknown toll pricing and timing, the plans might create rather than reduce congestion by diverting traffic to U.S. 50, U.S. 29, Route 7, I-495, or neighborhood streets in Arlington, McLean and Falls Church.”

LeMunyon said his bill would hit the “reset button” on plans for I-66 inside the Beltway “so that better alternatives can be implemented.”

He referred to VDOT’s figures that show about 900,000 hours are wasted by Northern Virginians each business day due to traffic congestion.

On the heels of a 2013 transportation funding law that includes new revenue for Northern Virginia, LeMunyon also questions why tolls are necessary to pay for upgrades.

The two-year-old law, HB2313, increased state taxes and fees and regional taxes and fees in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads to pay for needed road work.

He also questions the fairness of tolls.

“Likewise, it is unfair for motorists to pay a toll to drive on a road that tax dollars have already paid to build and maintain.”

His bill, HB1, awaits consideration during the regular session that begins Jan. 13, 2016.

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