Late Thursday, as a member of the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC), I attended a meeting at which the McAuliffe administration made it clear they fully intend to go ahead with their plan for $17 tolls on I-66 over the objections of local residents, leaders, and even members of his own party.
Virginia Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary Nick Donahue spoke on behalf of the McAuliffe administration and pressured the Commission by claiming the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) would assign spending authority to the Department of Rail and Public Transportation at their next meeting if the NVTC did not sign on to the memorandum agreeing to partner with the toll effort. I voted against this plan.
This plan is NOT about improving transportation on I-66. In fact, it’s a concerted, overt effort to make it unaffordable to all but a select few. McAuliffe apparently hopes to force more drivers off the highway and onto public transportation.
This kind of heavy-handed behavior modification might work on lab rats, but it’s unacceptable to jerk around the hundreds of thousands of Northern Virginia drivers and businesses who rely on our roads for their livelihood.
I-66 does need improvement inside the Beltway, and the proper path forward is to add an eastbound lane from the Beltway to Ballston and expand the Bus on Shoulder pilot program to make it more usable. Federal funds, the CTB’s statewide priority funds, VDOT NoVA district grant revenues, and regional transportation funding provided by HB2313, not new tolls, should be utilized to make these improvements.
I, along with the Republican (and several Democratic) members of the House, am fully prepared to block this plan however necessary. My colleague Jim LeMunyon has introduced HB 1 to this end, and we are also pursuing budget amendments to make this tolling plan impossible.
Thank you for your support, and please stay tuned for further updates!