We have heard from many of you who use the Downtown and Midtown Tunnels about the tolls that started earlier this month. Lawmakers in Richmond heard you too. Now they’re about to put the brakes on at least part of the new fees.
Newport News State Senator John Miller’s bill to eliminate the maintenance fees passed on the Senate unanimously. It cleared a House subcommittee Wednesday and appears to be on a smooth ride toward becoming law.
Those two quarters add up to big bucks for the state. Maintenance fees bring in about $5 million a year – money that would have to be made up if the fees are killed.
The McAuliffe administration says the DMV could take over operating the transponders and the fees are a small change.
“We have in the State of Virginia about a $5 billion annual budget throughout the transportation agencies. So I don’t see this as a significant hit to get good policy in place,” says Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne.
Layne and Miller say imposing this fee on top of other fees forces drivers to buy a transponder or pay much more without one.
“For them to have to pay a fee to get this pass when they don’t have an option, that is why we think it’s not appropriate,” Layne says.
If the bill passes, as expected, the state will stop collecting the fees on September 1st.