Top Prince William Co. lawmaker opposes I-66 tolls

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — A prominent Prince William County Republican is coming out against tolls on Interstate 66 inside the Capital Beltway, joining fellow Republicans in what is becoming a partisan issue.

Corey Stewart, chair of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, expressed his opinion in a board meeting Tuesday.

“We have always, always, always been opposed to tolling existing facilities. If you’re going to build a new facility and you’re going to use the toll revenue to construct that facility, that’s one thing. But when taxpayers have already paid through their income tax to build the facility, I don’t think that government should then thereby go back and tax them again,” says Stewart.

The Virginia Department of Transportation is proposing to toll commuters with fewer than two people during both rush hours in both directions. Commuters going with the traffic flow could pay up to $7 in the morning and $9 in the afternoon. Counter-commuters would pay $1 to $2.

Toll revenue would go to the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission. The tolls are expected to bring in $10 million per year. Revenues would have to be spent on corridor improvements inside the Beltway, such as express bus service.

“What they’re really trying to do is to punish us in Prince William County and all of us who live outside the Beltway. The toll revenues would not go to new road improvements in Prince William County. Instead, it would go to the NVTC and we don’t have a representative on that commission. It would go toward improvements on Metro, which we don’t even have in Prince William County. But a significant portion of these tolls on I-66 inside the Beltway will paid by Prince William County residents,” says Stewart.

Supervisor Jeanine Lawson, of Brentsville, opposes the tolling plan as well. Supervisor Frank Principi, of Woodbridge, says he has not taken a position on the issue and would need to study it more.

Two other supervisors declined to answer questions, which makes it unclear where the board as a whole stands on the issue.

Loudoun County has already voted to oppose the tolling plan because residents already pay tolls on the Dulles Greenway and the Dulles Toll Road.

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Sharon Bulova, a Democrat, supports the tolling plan, as do other Democrats on the board such as Cathy Hudgins and Linda Smyth.

But Republican board members such as Pat Herrity and Michael Frey oppose the tolls because VDOT has delayed widening I-66 inside the Beltway until the 2020s.

It’s unclear how a final vote will turn out when Fairfax County votes on the issue in December.

Arlington has not taken a position either, although there seems to be general support among the Democrats who constitute the majority of the Arlington County Board.

Stewart will be hosting a town-hall meeting on I-66 on Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. at Battlefield High School, in Haymarket. The I-66 Alliance, which also opposes the plans, will co-host the event.

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