A member of the West Virginia Parkways Authority says he’s beginning to preach a six-year sermon and he hopes to convert many when it comes to the future of tolls on the West Virginia Turnpike.
“For these fellas to think that they can do away with 80 million dollars in revenue, 77-percent which comes from out-of-state personal cars and commercial traffic is ridiculous,” Seaver said Thursday after the monthly Parkways Authority meeting.
The governor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Highways is currently studying the cost of the Turnpike and other roads. It’s been determined it takes $59 million a year to maintain the four-lane highway from Charleston to Princeton. Seaver says there would probably have to be a five-cent a gallon gasoline tax increase without the tolls.
“They’re going to have to raise a revenue source somewhere, but they (lawmakers in favor of eliminating the tolls) feel like they need to punish everybody in the state (with a gas tax increase),” Seaver said. “When they do they cost us jobs and they cost us monies in every adjoining county that surrounds West Virginia and it’s wrong. We need to speak up and shout against it.”
Seaver says the Turnpike tolls have long been an unfair tax on southern West Virginians but he says that doesn’t mean they should go away in 2019. He says the money when it’s no longer needed to pay off the road’s debt–could then be used for other projects.
“I want that money, when these tolls are paid off, I would like to see that line drawn across West Virginia. I want it spent on this end of the state for road projects, especially the coalfields,” Seaver said.
Whatever agency is in control of the Turnpike in six years it’s estimated it will cost $59 million a year to maintain including $12 million for paving, $9 million for bridge work and $22 million for general maintenance. It’s also estimated it would cost $20 million to dismantle the three toll plazas.