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  • The expansion of rush-hour periods allowing tolling is rescinded.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.”

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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