Republican General Assembly Candidates Unveil ‘Tolling Equity and Relief Plan’ for Area Highways
The GOP nominees (see attached list) all pledged to advance a new program that will refund a significant percentage of local tolls paid by Virginia-based commuters; restore HOV-2 (versus HOV-3) on I-66 and the I-495 Beltway; and equalize tolls on I-66 inside the beltway with rates outside the beltway, which cost motorists less per mile.
“We candidates have literally knocked on thousands of doors and made thousands of calls to our future constituents, and we are hearing many complaints about the high cost of the tolls – especially on the new I-66 express lanes but also I-495 and other toll roads – which is adding to the cost of living of Northern Virginia families. Government must do its part to give the region’s motorists a break,” said Ken Reid, a former Loudoun County supervisor and Leesburg town councilmember who convened today’s briefing. Reid is now the GOP nominee for Virginia Senate in District 37, which includes Falls Church, the City of Fairfax, and portions of Fairfax County.
Today’s briefing, held in view of rush-hour toll rate signage, outlined key details of the “Tolling Equity and Relief Plan,” including the following: 1. REBATES: Commuters using the I-66 and/or I- 495 toll lanes more than 30 times a month (equivalent to 15 days of commuting) would be eligible for relief. Rebates could be drawn from anticipated state tax surpluses, in addition to revenue from privately operated toll roads (e.g., I-66 and 495 Express Lanes and Loudoun County’s Dulles Greenway). Florida currently offers a 50 percent rebate (for background on this program, click here.
2. RESTORING HOV-2: In December 2022, VDOT required HOV-3 on I-66 inside and outside the Beltway, which means motorists need 3 people in a car to use the toll lanes at no cost. According to a VDOT press release, this was done to be “consistent with HOV requirements on the other express lanes in Northern Virginia, and supports a regional policy and goal to increase the occupancy requirements on HOV lanes in the region to HOV-3 in order to reduce the number of vehicle miles traveled and comply with the federal Clean Air Act Amendment of 1990.”
Reid said the move to HOV-3 “is not helping air quality a bit because motorists are jamming the free lanes, causing even more congestion, because the prices are so high.” Under the Republican plan, HOV-2 would be restored at certain hours on I-66 and I-495 – and motorists with two occupants in a vehicle would get a discount on the full toll rate, facilitated by special transponders.
“These candidates are spot on for advocating going back to two-person carpools rather than the current three-person rule,” Wolf said today. “Three-person carpools are almost impossible to maintain on a consistent basis because invariably someone is travelling for business, on vacation, sick or going to a doctor’s appointment, or has to work early or late for some reason. Many jobs – nurses, firemen, policemen, and tradesmen come to mind – have varied hours and could never be part of a consistent three-person carpool.” Wolf represented Virginia’s 10th District from 1981 to 2015. 3. TOLLING EQUITY ON I-66 INSIDE THE BELTWAY: Prior to leaving office in late 2017, Gov. Terry McAuliffe approved a plan to widen part of I-66 from the Route 267/I-66 “split” in Falls Church to Glebe Road from four to six lanes (three on each side) using tolls that would be variably priced based on congestion levels. The widening was deemed to be “done” within two years, but only to the Glebe Road exit, and toll prices are still more than double what they are from the I-66 express lanes west of the Beltway to Gainesville, which is a $3.7 billion project paid through private funds. For example, morning peak tolls to DC on 66 were $33 on October 15 to go the 10 miles from the Beltway to Key Bridge. In contrast, a similar 10-mile segment on I-66 outside the beltway during morning peak hours was only $14 – “still very high, but not highway robbery like inside-the-Beltway toll rates,” Reid said. Under the Tolling Equity and Relief Plan, rates would be consistent on I-66 inside and outside the Beltway – and funds would be used for fully widening I-66 to six lanes from the I-66/Route 267 (Dulles Access Road) “split” to the tunnel under Nash Street in Rosslyn. No funds would go to bike trails or other modes of transit until that project is done. Commuters would also be eligible for rebates under the plan’s toll relief provision – and a toll would be imposed for commuters going west in the morning and east in the evening, so out-of-staters who drive solo can “pay something too,” Reid added. Wolf lauded Reid and his fellow Northern Virginia Republicans for signing on to the Tolling Equity and Relief Plan. “People want to know that someone running for office understands what they are facing every day,” the former congressman said.
For his part, Reid expressed hope that his plan would help dispel false notions some residents might have about his party. “We occasionally hear from some voters that Republicans ‘want chaos’ or ‘can’t govern’ due to the current situation in the U.S. House but this program shows that we are offering real solutions to real problems – problems that one-party Democrat rule in Northern Virginia created.”
Further information on the Tolling Equity and Relief Plan will be available after 1 PM today at KenReid.org.