Tolls to increase in 2020 for Elizabeth River Tunnels

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - If you're planning your budget for 2020, you may need to add a little more to your travel expenses.

Downtown Tunnel

Tolls at the Elizabeth River Tunnels will go up in price again starting January 1, 2020.

These are the Midtown and Downtown tunnels between Norfolk and Portsmouth.

Some drivers, including Devette Copeland, told News 3 they are not happy with the toll increase. Copeland has an E-ZPass on her windshield, but come next year, she said she will not see any benefit to having it.

“I wouldn’t recommend anyone, even with an E-ZPass," Copeland said as she filled her tires with air at a Shell gas station in Portsmouth. "It’s just a ripoff. And now they’re going up; it’s just too much.”

Wayne Ecklin said he uses the tunnels two to three times a week and uses the pay by plate option.

“I think in Virginia, we pay enough taxes here," he said. "I would prefer if they were going to do that to pay right on site than sending the bill in the mail."

Ecklin filled his car with gas at the same gas station near the Downtown Tunnel. He said he will continue to use the tunnel with the pay by plate option.

"It’s still a lot faster than going all the way around to save a couple of dollars," Ecklin said. "You’ll spend that in gas anyway, you know?”

Virginia Del. Stephen Heretick of 79th District said he shares those same feelings. The two tunnels are in his district.

“This toll is an economic barrier between Norfolk, Virginia Beach on one side, Portsmouth and Suffolk on the other," Heretick said. "It’s created a virtual Iron Curtain of sorts.”

Heretick said he and his colleagues will work in Richmond to find financial solutions. He said they will either refashion the agreement or find ways to decrease the tolls.

He added he saw some benefits to the tolls. Those benefits include how tolls helped pay for a second Midtown Tunnel tube and maintenance of the tunnels. There was one question on his mind.

"I think we have to ask ourselves, 'If we had known at the time what the cost would be, would we have done it?'” Heretick said.

Heretick said once the agreement expires in 2072, taxpayers will have paid about $25 billion throughout its course.

Below is a list of the toll prices you can expect at the beginning of next year:

Passenger vehicles 

*2-axle vehicles, includes motorcycles

Monday-Friday

  • 12-5:30 a.m. - $1.85 with E-ZPass, $5.54 with pay by plate
  • 5:30-9 a.m. (peak) - $2.33 with E-ZPass, $6.02 with pay by plate
  • 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. - $1.85 with E-ZPass, $5.54 with pay by plate
  • 2:30-7:30 p.m. (peak) - $2.33 with E-ZPass, $6.02 with pay by plate
  • 7 p.m. to 12 a.m. - $1.85 with E-ZPass, $5.54 with pay by plate

Heavy vehicles

*Vehicles with 3 or more axles, includes cars with trailers

Monday-Friday

  • 12-5:30 a.m. - $5.54 with E-ZPass, $9.23 with pay by plate
  • 5:30-9 a.m. (peak) - $9.29 with E-ZPass, $12.98 with pay by plate
  • 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. - $5.54 with E-ZPass, $9.23 with pay by plate
  • 2:30-7 p.m. (peak) - $9.29 with E-ZPass, $12.98 with pay by plate
  • 7 p.m. to 12 a.m. - $5.54 with E-ZPass, $9.23 with pay by plate

Off-peak rates apply on weekends and holidays.

Officials say this is all part of the private-public partnership made in 2011.

Related: Toll on I-64 Express Lane in Norfolk temporarily reaches $15 

It's only a few cents per trip, but you know that can add up! If you haven't made the switch to the E-ZPass, you can do so here. 

The tolls also increased from 2018 to 2019.

Download the News 3 App for updates on this story. 

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