Va. lawmakers call to end ‘highway robbery’ tolls until promises delivered

FAIRFAX, Va. — Commuters upset by high tolls on Interstate 66 aren’t alone. Sixteen Northern Virginia lawmakers are calling on Virginia’s transportation secretary to suspend the tolls until multiple issues are rectified.

“Lets call this plan what it is, the way that it’s been rolled out: It’s highway robbery,” said state Sen. Jennifer Wexton, D-Loudoun County.

Wexton was among lawmakers at a Thursday news conference expressing dismay that 76 commuters paid $40 one way to use the toll lanes Tuesday morning.

“This is unacceptable. We call on VDOT to change this policy,” Wexton said.

Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne told WTOP that’s not happening.

“I will decline their request, because we are doing what we promised. And it is working,” Layne said. “They are misinformed, or not going back to the compromise that was reached.”

A letter the lawmakers sent to Layne states that tolls should be suspended until the following occurs:

  • Additional travel lane capacity is built on I-66 inside the Beltway;
  • New commuter parking lots are built outside the Beltway;
  • Additional bus and transit options are available;
  • The expansion of rush-hour periods allowing tolling is rescinded.

A number of those items are in the works now.

“We had a very specific deal with the governor that we were going to make improvements. Once those improvements were made, particularly inside the beltway, we were going to go forward with the tolling,” said Virginia State Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax.

Layne said he disagrees strongly with Petersen.

“He is just inaccurate,” Layne said. “This is exactly what was laid out in the compromise agreement (from 2015) with the General Assembly and the governor.”

  • Q: When is the primary? When do polls open?
  • The 2020 Democratic presidential primary in Virginia is March 3, 2020. Polls are open from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m.

  • Q: What's on the ballot? Who can vote?
  • Only the candidates running for the Democratic nomination for president will be on the ballot. The list of candidates on the ballot includes some candidates who have already dropped out of the race.

    Virginia’s is an open primary — meaning any registered voter can cast a ballot regardless of their party registration.

    The Virginia Republican Party has notified the Virginia Department of Elections it will not hold a primary on March 3. President Donald Trump is running for reelection and is expected to be officially selected as the state party’s nominee at a party convention.

    Democratic and Republican primaries to select candidates for the U.S. House and Senate are set to take place June 9, 2020.

  • Q: What do I need to vote?
  • You must have been registered to vote at least 22 days before Election Day.

    When you show up to the polls, you will need to show a photo ID to vote in person. Acceptable forms of ID include:

    • Virginia driver’s license
    • Virginia DMV-issued photo ID
    • United States passport
    • Employer-issued photo ID
    • Virginia Voter Photo ID card
    • Other U.S. or Virginia government-issued photo ID
    • Student photo ID issued by a school, college or university located in Virginia
    • Tribal enrollment or other tribal photo ID

    If you show up to vote and don’t have ID, you will have to vote using a provisional ballot.

  • Q: Voting absentee?
  • The deadline for requesting an absentee ballot is Feb. 25. You can apply online for one, and register to vote if you aren’t already, at the Virginia Department of Election’s website, as well as in-person or by email, fax and standard mail.

    If you already signed up to vote absentee and received your ballot, you must turn it in to your voter registration office by 7 p.m. on Election Day. Absentee voters can also check the status of their ballot through the state’s online citizen portal.

  • Q: Need accommodations?
  • If you are 65 or older or you have a physical disability, you can vote from your car at your polling place on Election Day. The department of elections recommends you bring a helper with you who can go into the polling place and request curbside assistance.

  • Q: Who else is voting?
  • A lot of people. They don’t call it Super Tuesday for nothing. Virginia is one of 14 states plus American Samoa that are voting March 3.

  • Q: Will WTOP have election coverage for Maryland and D.C.?
  • Absolutely! A similar set of FAQs will be set up for both. Stay tuned.

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