New toll relief plan could expand to Northern Virginia

WASHINGTON — A new toll relief plan in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia could foreshadow similar benefits for drivers in Northern Virginia.

The Toll Relief Program announced for low-income Norfolk and Portsmouth residents this week will offer refunds of 75 cents per trip for qualifying residents who take eight or more trips in a month through the Downtown or Midtown tunnels.

But more and more toll facilities are coming to Northern Virginia: The Virginia Department of Transportation is launching rush-hour tolls next year for solo drivers on Interstate 66 inside the Capital Beltway and preparing to select a preferred private partner for construction of new Express Lanes outside the Beltway. And a top Virginia transportation official told WTOP the state plans to consider similar toll discount plans for Northern Virginia residents in the future.

Any new toll relief program would be contingent on the success of the rebates in Hampton Roads.

In that program, the operator of the tunnels, Elizabeth River Crossings, is providing $500,000 per year for 10 years in toll offsets. To qualify for the rebates, drivers must live in Norfolk or Portsmouth, make $30,000 or less per year, have or get a Virginia E-ZPass account, and reapply each year with proof of residency and income.

The application period opens in December and runs through February. The rebates will begin in March.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who officially announced the program Monday, said the first year of the program will be a pilot that could determine whether any tweaks are needed.

Gov. McAuliffe will take your calls and questions at 10 a.m. Wednesday on WTOP’s “Ask the Governor.” Submit questions now or call in during the session at 877-336-1035.

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