‘Pure Insanity' | State leaders call for suspension of sky-high I-66 tolling

There is new fallout in the I-66 tolling inside the Beltway. Some drivers had to pay as much as $40 on Day 2. At least two Virginia politicians are weighing in. WUSA9's Michael Quander took your concerns straight to VDOT and explains where the money is go

FAIRFAX, VA (WUSA9) - On day two of tolling inside the beltway on I-66, some drivers had to pay as much as $40 dollars on Tuesday.

Prince William County Gainesville District Supervisor Pete Candland called on Virginia's governor to suspend the tolling.

He wants a plan that protects commuters from the sky-high prices.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) reported improved travel times and increased speeds on the highway since tolling began.

RELATED: Commuters complain new I-66 tolls are 'highway robbery'

This is the first time solo drivers can drive on I-66 which used to be exclusively for carpoolers and buses. 

“We’re monitoring it very closely and we will continue to do that as we get through this initial process,” Michelle Holland, a VDOT spokesperson, said.

However, some drivers were not happy about the high tolls.

One WUSA9 viewer called the toll rates “pure insanity.”

“I would say this is about providing new choices to drivers that didn’t have the choice to take 66 during rush hour,” Holland said. “It does require paying a toll, but what you’re getting from that is you’re getting a more predictable commute.”

A statement from Supervisor Candland referred to the high costs at toll gouging:

When the enacted tolling proposal was presented to the Legislature and the public the proposal stated the highest price a commuter would expect to pay for a round-trip commute would be $17. This has already proven to be false as the peak fare in the first day of tolling topped $69 round trip. The following day tolls topped $40 for a one-way trip -- for a total of as much as $80 for a round-trip commute.

WUSA9 asked if VDOT expected for the toll prices to get as high as they are.

“The prices that have been out there for the past two days are consistent with what we were expecting,” Holland explained. “The pricing is congestion based. It’s based on the demand for the lanes.”

Holland added that there is no price cap on the tolling and no plans to enact one.

“The whole concept of dynamic tolling is to have it be fluid based on the demand for the lane,” she said.

The tolls are controlled by VDOT, and the revenue will be used to fund ten projects in Northern Virginia.

“We’re going to be paying for new bus service, new improvements for people that are carpooling— making that easier. Providing more options and making improvements for bicyclists and pedestrians,” Holland said.

“Drivers across our region are shocked at the exorbitant tolls we’ve seen on I-66 over the last couple days. This is not what anyone expected to see,” Virginia House of Delegates Republican Caucus Chairman Timothy D. Hugo released in a statement on Tuesday.

Hugo said Governor McAuliffe and Transportation Secretary Layne made repeated assurances and commitments that the toll rates would be reasonable. 

The delegate recalled documents advertising $6 to $7 tolls on average. 

“We worked in good faith with this administration and trusted their assurances, but what we’ve seen over the last couple of days is unacceptable,” Hugo stated.

The road between 495 and Route 29 in Rosslyn is still free for carpoolers and buses. 

VDOT says it has already seen more than 80% of drivers using those new EZ passes needed to travel on I-66.

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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