CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Cash paying customers on the West Virginia Turnpike are being handed cards by toll collectors through Saturday. The motorists are being asked to respond to a survey that will help determine the future tolls on the 88-mile highway.
The survey is part of a traffic engineering revenue study being done for the West Virginia Parkways Authority by a national firm in connection with a new state law that allows for up to$500 million in revenue bonds for road construction to be sold, Parkways General Greg Barr told MetroNews Thursday.
“Those cards have a link to a survey and it’s very important that we get some good information from those travelers about their frequency of use and about their likelihood of participating in a flat-rate program,” Barr said.
Those who participate in the survey have a chance to win a $100 gift card.
The new bonding program, passed by lawmakers and signed into law by Gov. Jim Justice, calls for a single-pay annual pass to be offered to both in-state and out-of-state residents for passenger vehicles anywhere from $8 to $25, which is much less than the current annual discounted toll rates. Barr said that will likely result in toll increases for those who don’t have the passes.
Traffic engineering revenue firm CDM Smith is conducting the survey which includes contacting EZ pass users from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina who use the West Virginia Turnpike.
CDM will gather the information and have revenue projections for the state Parkways Authority to consider by December. The law then requires the proposals to be taken out for public hearings before the authority makes a final decision on the new rates, Barr said.
“There will probably be a few different ones (tolling options) that people can look at and comment on and let us and our board members know what they like best or what they don’t like about them,” Barr said.
Once the bonds are sold the new-look tolls will pay the debt payment and the money from the bonds will be placed in a special road fund account controlled by the state Division of Highways for projects in 10 southern counties.