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Bill addresses E-ZPass fees

MORE: See all local transportation news

A BILL winding its way through the General Assembly could give toll-road drivers a break.

According to reports last week, there is a serious push to eliminate monthly fees for

E–ZPasses, which driv-ers need to use certain toll roads in Virginia and several other states in the electronic toll network. The passes are required on the Interstate 495 express lanes and will be needed on the Interstate 95 express lanes when they open early next year.

“We just don’t think it’s appropriate to charge people a fee to pay a fee,” new Virginia Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne told The Virginian–Pilot.

The bill, introduced by Newport News Sen. John Miller, would eliminate monthly fees (50 cents for a regular E–ZPass transponder and $1 for a flex device, which allows those with at least three in a vehicle to avoid tolls).

“I think it’s just time to give the motorists of Virginia a break,” Miller told the Pilot.

This raises an issue, though. How would the Virginia Department of Transportation, which issues the E–ZPasses in the state, replace the lost funds from the fees?

Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who thinks the fees should be eliminated, told the Pilot the highway department could run the E–ZPass program more efficiently. He also said VDOT could cover some of the expense and suggested that private toll operators could absorb some of the cost.

That’s easier said than done.

Either way, though, it’s a good discussion. Tolls are unpopular enough, and that’s without having to pay a fee to pay those tolls.

Let’s switch gears to a good question from a local reader, who didn’t want to use her name.

It’s a question many drivers have likely wondered about.

The reader wanted to know about the higher speeding fines for roads such as Town and Country Drive in Stafford County.

The road is in a residential area but is used as a cut-through between White Oak and Ferry roads.

There is an extra $200 fine on the road for speeding.

The reader wanted to know how she could get a similar fine instituted in her neighborhood.

According to VDOT’s Kelly Hannon, localities can ask for such signs.

State code dictates where the signs can go.

“The sign can be installed only on a local residential street, a collector street, or a minor arterial street with residential characteristics. The posted speed limit must be 35 mph or less,” Hannon said in an email.

To start the ball rolling, anyone interested in getting such a sign needs to first contact local elected officials, who then can decide whether or not to enact a resolution.

VDOT will then do the rest.

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436

sshenk@freelancestar.com

 

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