VIRGINIA BEACH-The price of crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel may be going up.
The tunnel commission is recommending a 10% increase to pay for a new tunnel on the south side of the 20-mile crossing at Thimble Shoals with a 10% increases every five years.
Officials estimate the cost at $885 million.
Commissioner Chairman Aubrey Lane says the idea is to put most of the burden on drivers who don't have EZ-Pass.
"The good news is because of the technology with EZ Pass, we're able to fine tune and really have the brunt of the toll not shared by the locals or the commuters going back and forth across the bridge-tunnel, but the out-of-state residents and the commercial trucks that use the bridge," he explained.
Commissioners say there are many reasons the tunnel is needed: safety, the lack of a viable alternative route in the event of closure from "catastrophe, vehicular or maritime accidents or mechanical failure to the 50-year old existing tunnels" and the fact that lane closures each year exceed 1500 hours.
Layne said EZ Pass holders would see a smaller hike - perhaps just $1.00.
Public hearings will be held in June and the commission will vote in July.
If approved, the increase would begin in January 2014.
Construction on the Thimble Shoal Parallel Tunnel could begin as early as July 2016.