Norfolk councilman wants a cash lane for Midtown, Downtown tunnels

Norfolk councilman wants a cash lane for Midtown, Downtown tunnels

Credit: 13News Now

Norfolk councilman wants a cash lane for Midtown, Downtown tunnels

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by 13News Now

WVEC.com

Posted on February 10, 2014 at 12:53 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 10 at 1:07 PM

NORFOLK-A Norfolk councilman says having no cash lane at the Downtown and Midtown tunnels is "shortsighted."

Paul Riddick laid out many of his concerns in a letter to Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-VA) on January 23.

He called the all-electronic tolling "incommoding" to drivers who would rarely use the tunnels and therefore wouldn't pay $35 for the EZPass/transponder.

"What about the hundreds of veterans and active duty military personnel who infrequently, but necessarily, visit Portsmouth Naval Hospital? Or the spouses of military personnel who take sick children to the facility? What about vehicles traveling in funeral processions from Norfolk/Virginia Beach to the Albert G. Horton, Jr. Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Suffolk?" he wrote.

He also expressed concern on tourists and people who had rental cars. 

Riddick added that he believes a re-design of the Elizabeth River Tunnels E-Z Pass system to include a cash lane would be well worth the cost and he asked Gov. McAuliffe to begin discussions with Transportation Secretary Aubrey Lane and regional General Assembly members about the idea.

McAulifee and Layne announced in mid-January a reduction in the initial cost of tolls; Secretary Layne says there could soon be a bill in Richmond to eliminate the one-time cost of $35 for a transponder and the $.50 monthly maintenance fee.

Meantime, Elizabeth River Tunnels said the first seven days tolling that 63.4% of all weekday trips and 57.7% of all weekend trips through the tunnels were made by vehicles with an E-ZPass.

TOTAL TUNNEL TRAFFIC:
Downtown Tunnel
Weekday: 69,319 Weekend: 43,790
Midtown Tunnel
Weekday: 34,224 Weekend – 19,178

ERC says the average number of vehicles using the tunnels weekdays is nearly 22% lower than before tolls and weekend use was down approximately 28.6%. Officials say those numbers aren't surprising, noting they expected drivers to initially find and drive non-toll routes. 

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