Richmond, Va. – Today, Virginia’s Supreme Court took up the issue of tolls at the Downtown and Midtown Tunnels.
People came more than 65 strong making the trip from Portsmouth to Richmond to see in person the final battle in the fight over tolls.
The courtroom couldn’t even hold the hundreds of people who showed up to see the Supreme Court arguments over whether or not these new Elizabeth River tunnel tolls are really a tax.
Attorneys for the Virginia Department of Transportation argued that the tolls collected will only be used for improvements to the Midtown and Downtown Tunnels as well as the Martin Luther King Expressway. They say since they are all considered one facility, it’s not a tax.
The attorney representing Portsmouth businesses and residents argued against that in court.
“There has never been a bundling like this where one of the heaviest traveled roads in the state is not going to be expanded, all those revenues from retolling are going to be poured into two new projects. [It's] never been done before,” says Attorney Patrick McSweeney.
For those living and working in Portsmouth who have the highest stakes, they left feeling optimistic about the judge’s decision to come in November.
“From the discussion and dialogue, I think three of those justices understand what we are trying to say,” says Mayor Kenneth Wright.
“I really feel we are right, and I would really like to believe that right wins,” says Debbie Childs, a concerned citizen.