Legislation put forward by House Transportation Committee Vice Chairman Tim Hugo (R- 40) and Del. Dave A. LaRock (R-33) to provide toll relief for Northern Virginia commuters has survived review by one committee, but is headed to another.
A subcommittee of the Transportation Committee had recommended letting the bill die, but the full committee—on a 21-1 vote, with only Fairfax Del. Ken Plum (D-36) opposed—passed a substitute, which has not yet been published on the state’s Legislative Information System. According to a press release from LaRock, the committee’s scaled-back version would require the Virginia Department of Transportation to refund tolls of more than $200 per month for motorists using I-66 east of mile marker 67 to commuters with electronic toll tags until work is done widening I-66 eastbound from the Dulles Access Road to Fairfax Drive in fall 2020. It would also impose tolls on reverse commuters.
The original bill would have required the refunds and reverse commute tolling, and also reduce the tolling hours for the HOT lanes on I-66 and direct the Secretary of Transportation to work with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority to start dynamic tolling on the Dulles Airport Access Highway to make the Dulles Toll Road toll-free by 2030.
The revised bill has now been assigned to the transportation subcommittee of the House Committee on Appropriations Committee.
“Northern Virginia was already one of the highest-tolled regions in America—now, commuters driving the 36 miles from Leesburg to Washington, DC during peak times travel on three distinct toll roads, paying as much as $56 one-way,” LaRock said in a statement. “Jan. 18, the one-way toll on I-66 ITB hit a new high of $47.25. My constituents call this ‘Highway Robbery,’ and I agree. Tolls this high hurt families, hinder economic growth, and are just unacceptable.”
A companion bill in the Senate, Sen. Richard H. Black (R-13)’s SB 898, was narrowly defeated in the Senate Committee on Transportation.
“Northern Virginians shouldn’t be expected to pay a $40 toll,” Hugo stated. “We need to find an immediate solution to lower these tolls, such as reverting the HOV hours back to where they were before the tolling went into effect.”