Taxpayers may be stuck with $1B tab for Midtown Tunnel construction

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by Philip Townsend, 13News

WVEC.com

Posted on May 2, 2013 at 4:53 PM

Updated Thursday, May 2 at 5:21 PM

PORTSMOUTH---Construction on a new Midtown Tunnel will continue despite a judge's ruling Wednesday against tolls planned for the Downtown and Midtown tunnels and the Martin Luther King Jr. Expressway in Portsmouth.

13News has learned that the court's decision, if upheld, could result in a big cost to Virginia taxpayers.

Fitch Ratings, an international company that reviews financial lawsuits, including the tolls litigation, says the Commonwealth would be required to pay off the debt associated with the project.
 
In a report filed in April, they found, "...the obligation would be subject to appropriation by the legislature."
 
In other words, striking the current tunnel deal could mean higher taxes for people who don't even use the two Southside tubes.
 
"It's infrastructure," said Portsmouth business owner Tony Diotallevi. "If it needs to be done, then somehow they will figure out a way and come to a common ground to complete it."
 
The report also suggests that debt payment could be upwards of $1 billion.
 
Virginia will appeal the judge's decision to the Virginia Supreme Court. The Commonwealth maintains that terminating the current deal will cost taxpayers more in the long run.


 

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