Governor Northam Announces Major Expansion of Elizabeth River Crossing Toll Reduction
NORFOLK, VA (STL.News) Governor Ralph Northam announced a major expansion of the Toll Relief Program in partnership with Elizabeth River Crossings, the owners of the Elizabeth River Tunnels. This program will reduce tolls for those most impacted by the Downtown and Midtown Tunnel tolls.
“This will make it significantly more affordable for working people to use the tunnels in Hampton Roads,” said Governor Northam. “The Commonwealth and the Elizabeth River Crossing team are making commuting easier, and that is something we can all be proud of.”
Annual funding will increase six-fold in the program in 2022 to more than $3.2 million and then grow 3.5 percent annually. The increased funding will allow the region, Elizabeth River Crossings, and the Commonwealth to consider additional improvements for 2023.
The funds will allow for the following changes to be implemented in 2022:
Provide participants with a 50 percent toll discount on up to five round-trips a week to reduce the cost of commuting to and from work;
More than double the number of drivers, up to 4,300, eligible for the program;
Eliminate the minimum number of trips required before discounts become available; and,
Apply the rebate for the discount on a daily basis instead of monthly.
The 2022 Toll Relief Program is open to Portsmouth and Norfolk residents who earn less than $30,000 a year. The enrollment period begins December 1, 2021, and closes February 15, 2022. Toll reimbursements for the new program begin on March 1, 2022. Current participants must re-enroll to receive the 2022 Toll Reduction Program benefits.
“Today represents an important step forward for those citizens who rely upon Elizabeth River Crossings and have been impacted the most by tolls at the Downtown and Midtown Tunnels,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “The commitments announced today are fundamental to building a strong partnership with Elizabeth River Crossings as we work with the region to better serve the Hampton Roads community.”
“Today marks an excellent start to a long-term partnership. Elizabeth River Crossings is our first asset in the United States, and Abertis is very proud to be in Virginia,” said Jose Aljaro, Chief Executive Officer of Abertis which holds a 55.2 percent stake in Elizabeth River Crossings. “We are committed to serving the local community of Hampton Roads as we continue to build a constructive and mutually beneficial relationship with the Commonwealth.”
“This is our commitment to easing the financial burden that we know our tolls have on income restrained residents,” said Elizabeth River Crossings Chief Executive Officer David Sullivan. “We feel it’s our duty to connect them to relief that they can count on. This $2.7 million increase in toll reduction funding is the most significant commitment our company has ever made to the community. We’re excited to see how the program will improve and the impact it will have on those who need it most.”
“As the delegate from Virginia’s 80th House of Delegates district in Portsmouth, I am thankful for this needed 3.2 million immediate investment to provide relief for the most vulnerable of all our citizens who are working hard but struggle to pay the tolls,” said Delegate Don Scott. “We are delivering on the promise to provide toll reductions.”
“The Governor’s announcement today providing toll reductions on the Midtown and Downtown tunnels is a positive step towards addressing our concerns of the impact to our citizens quality of life and the region’s economic vitality,” said Norfolk Mayor Kenneth Cooper Alexander. “I want to thank Governor Northam and Secretary Valentine for this action.”
“As the Chair of the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization, I have tried to stress the importance of our organization using its influence to provide toll relief for the residents of Hampton Roads,” said Chair of the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization and Mayor of Hampton, Donnie Tuck. “I am grateful to Governor Northam and to Transportation Secretary Valentine and her team for their determined efforts to develop a plan that will reduce the tolls for Norfolk and Portsmouth residents.”
The toll rate increase that was scheduled for 2021 and suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic will now be spread out over the next three years, saving drivers up to $50 in 2022 and up to $25 in 2023.
The program was established in 2016 to help reduce the cost of Elizabeth River Tunnel tolls on Norfolk and Portsmouth residents.