Do you remember how outraged you got when you heard that Governor McAuliffe had a plan to make I-66 a toll road? Do you remember all those ads the Republican Party of Virginia paid for saying what a horrible idea that was? Do you remember all the Democrat politicians and candidates declaring their steadfast opposition to any kind of plan to put tolls on I-66?
Well guess what’s coming down the pike? That’s right. GET READY FOR TOLLS ON I-66!!!
In a announcement made Wednesday, the Governor is declaring that a deal has been reached that will have toll booths on I-66 inside the beltway starting in 2017. The plan is almost exactly what was proposed before the November elections except that they will move up the widening of east bound I-66.
Under the deal announced Wednesday, the cost of the widening, located in a stretch where traffic is heaviest, will be financed through the state budget, at a cost of up to about $140 million, state transportation officials said. It also will be done years earlier than envisioned.
The deal anticipates that the General Assembly would kill legislation that blocked tolling before widening. That includes House Bill 1, sponsored by Del. James M. LeMunyon (R), whose district includes parts of Fairfax and Loudoun counties.
Under an agreement with the state, the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission will pick a set of programs designed to help I-66 commuters leave their cars behind and allocate some of the toll revenue to those programs. The programs would be in effect before the widening is completed.
Del. Jim LeMunyon was apparently a central player in this deal. From the Loudoun Times-Mirror:
“My colleagues and I made the case for widening I-66 inside the beltway,” LeMunyon said. “I’m glad there is now consensus on the need to do this as soon as possible. This is a step forward in our efforts to address the gridlock on I-66 within the limits of current budget resources.”
Democrat Senators Chap Peterson (Fairfax), Jeremy McPike (Prince William), and Jennifer Wexton (yes, the same Loudoun Democrat who called her opponent, Steven Hollingshead, a liar for saying she supported the tolls) issued a joint statement PRAISING the tolls deal.
Senator Dick Black, who had previously signed a joint letter with other members of the Northern Virginia Delegation urging the Governor to prioritize widening I-66, said he was not involved in any deal that would trade widening for tolls, and remains adamantly opposed to any plan to put tolls on I-66. He has twice voted against tolls on I-66 as a member of the NVTC and continues his opposition.
Folks, this is a perfect example of the pre-election opposition/post-election deal-making that has people completely fed up and furious with their government. We fought these tolls before the election. Our elected officials and candidates promised us they would fight these tolls before the elections. Now that the elections are over, however, and power has been placed back in their hands, they are singing a different tune, and it just plain stinks to high heavens.
I urge everybody to call their Delegates and Senators and tell them that you expect them to keep the promises they made during the campaign just three short months ago. Tell them that when we said “no tolls on 66,” we meant “NO TOLLS ON 66!!!”
UPDATE: LeMunyon’s bill to stop the tolls, HB-1, was quietly tabled by a voice vote in the Transportation sub-committee of the House Appropriations committee on Wednesday. This is how they play the game. While the bill is technically not dead, the plan is to never let it out of the sub-committee. Now all your favorite Delegates and Senators can swear they would have voted against tolls “if only they had gotten the chance.”
Not good enough. Call your Delegates and Senators (Republican and Democrat) and tell them how you feel. Tell them to bring HB-1 back off the table and let it have it’s day on the floor of the House. Let’s have a recorded vote and see if there are enough votes to send it to the Senate.
Here is a link to the members of the Transportation Sub-Committee that tabled the bill. Let them know you want the bill taken off the table and allowed a floor vote.
Here is a link to find your legislator. Let them know that you want HB-1 to have a full recorded vote, or you can send an email to:
[email protected] to send a message to all members of the VA House of delegates.
For Senators, if you know your Senate District, their email address is district”##”@senate.virginia.gov (e.g. [email protected]).
After looking at this proposal, the truth is that absolutely nothing changes except that single-passenger cars can now legally drive on I-66 by paying a toll, where it was illegal to do so before. I-66 remains HOV-2 for free passage until 2020.
That is exactly how I read it as well. Are you and I reading a different proposal? I’m truly missing the outrage over being allowed something (granted at a cost so I suppose your chagrin might be you didn’t get it gratis) that was previously denied you outright and was illegal and ticketable as well.
Look at the anger and outrage that Staton has gotten throwing out the red meat to the Usual Suspects here. Also, look at the lies that were spread about this before. I just laugh and move on.
You are taking an existing road that has been bought and paid for by the taxpayers and are now going to start charging for its use. They are going to almost double the time that tolls will be in effect over what the current HOV restriction time is. The HOV riders who could previously ride for free at HOV-2 will lose that ability in a few years. It will then only be a matter of time until all cars pay.
I have never supported the so-called HOT lanes (or Lexus Lanes if you will) concept. Infrastructure is a natural function of government that I am already paying for, and I am sick of being told that I have to pay extra to drive around on roads that have already been paid for simply because the politicians want to spend my money on other pet projects.
Furthermore, every Republican and every Democrat candidate on the ballot in November declared their absolute opposition to tolls of any kind on this road, yet as soon as the elections are over they stab every single voter in the back. If being outright lied to doesn’t get you outraged, I don’t know what would.
Now you’re starting to tell the truth. It’s a shame that it had to take you being called out for your idiotic spin job for you to get here. You’re still using the “slippery slope” logical fallacy though in an effort to stay above water.
But I do give you credit for responding to criticism. That’s more than the Usual Suspects do here.
I’m not sure what you think I am being called out on. You want to argue about the merits of making I-66 a toll road, when the entire purpose of this piece is to outline the outright lies told during the campaign. There were no caveats given during the campaign. There were no prevarications. The promise given by the candidates was loud and clear. No tolls on I-66. Now they are going back on their word.
It was a stupid promise built on Spin-O-Rama talking points and a blustery press conference in the first place.
I got news for you, Mick (and Dick). This is called a compromise. Each side gives up something and each side gets something. That’s how politics is supposed to work. You can call them RINOs, DINOs or Hellifiknows but it doesn’t matter. You & the Usual Suspects around here often get stuck on a “No Compromise. Never. We must stick to our principles 100%” track. That doesn’t cut it in the real world.
I think the compromise would be that giant Transportation Tax itself. Tolling 66 is just another pretense for the government to funnel even more money from us to them. They found out people are willing to pay for transportation improvements, so they tax/toll us for it at every corner and then spend the money on unrelated items. Tolling 66 and putting 100% of the revenue back into expanding the road could be another compromise, but here Richmond just created another revenue stream for itself and another piggy bank for it to rob. That’s not compromise. That’s stupid.
Except that the toll is only going to apply to the people that are cheating the system now.
You really don’t have a clue do you?
Sure I do. You’re an anonymous account that got abusive towards me. I have absolutely no use for you and I will mock you incessantly. You mean nothing to me.
If that was really the issue, then put one of those License Plate Reader cameras that NOVA loves so much on the overpasses and send the offenders the tickets. Problem solved.
That would have been a great idea but can you imagine the howls of everybody getting a citation for finally getting caught cheating the system?
Must be nice to take such a high road in your posts, comfortable in the fact that the realities of NOVA don’t apply to you backwoods downstaters. Must also be nice not to have to pay the additional taxes and fees that we pay in NOVA, a large percentage of which go to pay for your roads. Two words, PISS OFF.
You have anger issues. Heh.
Bruce, our Greenway toll is $6.20 ONE WAY. Dulles Toll Road is $2.50 ONE WAY. What will I-66 be? And it is one continuous road. Greenway ends at the Toll Road, which ends at I66. If you do a straight shot to DC, that adds up fast.
Tolls are taking THOUSANDS of dollars out of people pockets just so they can get to work. NOVA commuters are rightfully mad. We are producing revenue to fund the state, sit in traffic, and then hear we need to pay up even more to sit in more traffic. No bleeping way.
There’s no toll if you’re a single-passenger driver outside of the time limits. There’s no toll at all if you’re HOV-2 or greater.
What exactly is the compromise here? A road that should have been widened decades ago is finally widened with money from the General budget (which is where the money should come from anyway), and in return drivers on the road pay for the privilege to drive on a road that is already paid for? What do they need the toll money for if we are building the road using money from the budget?
“It was a stupid promise built on Spin-O-Rama talking points and a blustery press conference in the first place.”
So your position is it’s ok to lie to people if you think the promise you’re making is “stupid?” I’ll be sure to remember that.
The compromise is that you now get revenue from the people that were cheating the system because they knew there was an almost-zero chance of getting caught.
And nice try on putting that strawman up because I didn’t say that. Lemunyon, Albo and the whole gang should be rightfully called out for lying to you. They just didn’t have the guts to say the truth from the beginning. If they would have told the complete truth by saying that only the people already cheating the system would pay this toll, things would have been much better for everybody. I’m glad that they worked out the HOV-2 & HOV-3 issue in the deal, though.
I understand the opposition to tolls, and especially how upsetting it would be if I voted for someone who turned around and did what they promised not to do.
That said, if you don’t support tolls (or users paying for updating transportation infrastructure) how do you suggest these projects should be funded? I don’t live up there, but if 66 needs to be improved, (BTW, you can’t pave your way out of congestion) how should it be done, if not by tolls?
Use the money that we already pay in taxes to Richmond. The articles I linked to say they are going to put the money to widen the road into the budget. In return for not opposing that, McAuliffe wants to put tolls on the road. The toll money would then be used for “transit” purposes in the corridor (i.e. bike paths and buses).
Widening the road will only lead to another congested lane, but I see your point. Isn’t there a train up there? Improving commuter rail would be a better use of funds, IMHO.
The “you can’t pave your way out of congestion” line is an old canard and is as false as “if you don’t build the roads, the cars won’t come.” We have played that game far too long in Northern Virginia. We went decades without building roads hoping new homes wouldn’t be built, but the homes were built anyway, and now it costs 10 and 20 times as much to build the roads that should have been built a long time ago.
There is already a train, and buses, and carpooling, and every other mass transit option available in the corridor, and it is still congested because Arlington County has fought against improving this road forever. They didn’t even want the road built in the first place.
Another key problem is a lack of bridges over the Potomac River, forcing everyone into bottlenecks to cross over.
I hope more politicians join Sen. Black in fighting these tolls. We can’t get this done unless there are a majority of them fighting this in Richmond. Don’t be tone deaf! No tolls!
No tolls on 66 and no tolls anywhere. Again, we get the bait and switch from the Republican Party. Remind me, why did we have the largest tax hike in VA history? Oh that’s right, it was for TRANSPORTATION, but we need to just keep taxing (tolling) more even after that windfall.
LeMunyon is a big government guy who self-identifies as a conservative. Should be a violation of truth in advertising laws. Let’s not forget this “conservative” supported the biggest tax increase in VA history – the $6 billion “deal” our last “conservative” governor came up with.
Seriously….everyone needs to seek out and join their local tea party/patriot/tax payer activst group. This crap is out of control.