As Northern Virginians prepare for the holiday season, a time when family budgets are often stretched, drivers on I-66 faced the shocking reality of the McAuliffe I-66 toll plan as it was rolled out.
If it had been April 1st, the shock might have faded to amusement at the thought of a toll pushing north of $30 for less than a ten mile stretch of their drive on I-66 inside the beltway, but not so for the commuters who rely on I-66 to get to work; road rage might have been a better description of how drivers felt.
Our governor, who initiated this fiasco, claims to be laser focused on business growth in Virginia, but ignores the fact that treating northern Virginia commuters and businesses like cash cows will undoubtedly hurt businesses and goes counter to his claim of being a pro-business governor.
Outrageous tolls are nothing new to our region. If you're commuting from Leesburg to DC during peak times, you can either take the long way on Route 7, or the 'pay to go' route, starting with the (14-mile) Dulles Greenway $5.50, (14-mile) Dulles Toll Road $3.50, and (7+-mile) I-66 variable toll that was as high as $40.00= $49 to go the 36 miles from Leesburg to DC!
This initiative by Gov. McAuliffe is something I have strongly opposed since it was first announced in mid-2015.
More information about tolls and my long-time opposition can be found on my website here.
And don't just blame Gov. McAuliffe. Let's give credit where credit is due: Gov. Tim Kaine gave the Dulles Toll Road to MWAA to fund Dulles Rail (voiding promises it would become a toll-free road), and Gov. McAuliffe implemented tolls on I-66 ITB to fund transit, bike sharing in Arlington, and to force people out of cars.
Oh, and as for the Greenway, AG Mark Herring wrote the bill that requires the SCC to approve the Greenway toll hikes.
What can we do going forward? I will continue to fight to find ways to reduce tolls on all three of these roads, and to make sure the tolls that are collected are used to actually improve roads for the people who pay the tolls.