BECKLEY, W.Va. — The West Virginia Parkways Authority held their monthly meeting at the Tamarack Conference Center Thursday.
A recent traffic and revenue study completed by the Parkways Authority and traffic engineering revenue firm CDM Smith was a topic of discussion. The survey cards were handed out to cash-paying travelers along the 88-mile West Virginia Turnpike during the weekend of October 7.
Each card included a QR code to complete the online survey. The QR was even posted in travel publications of neighboring states Ohio and Pennsylvania.
One of the goals was to get travelers’ opinion on a single-fee transmitter option. Under the plan, users would only pay $8 to $25 per year for unlimited passenger car use.
Parkways Authority General Manager Greg Barr told MetroNews affiliate WJLS that while specific survey data has yet to be released, he was impressed with the public’s response.
“We were interested in getting data from out of state people. This single-fee discount program is available to everyone in any state for passenger car use. So the traffic and revenue people had to get widespread survey results. They expected to get a couple of thousand surveys but instead they got 4,000 surveys, somewhere in that ballpark.”
The collected data will also help the Parkways Authority decide how to use up to $500 million in revenue bonds for road construction recently passed by Governor Justice. The authority will be required to show the data and revenue projections to the public in meetings tentatively scheduled for February.
“All of these studies and all of these reports have to be presented to the public in a public meeting. Then, we’ll have to take them to the rating agencies up in New York and convince them that the data is reliable because that data is going to help form the foundation of future revenue projections.”
Another component of the traffic and revenue study is to show how to adjust toll rates for travelers not using the single-fee discount program.
“When you do that, it requires re-adjusting the rate schedules for all classes of vehicles. Because you’re giving an extremely high discount now for passenger cars. Somehow that will have to be spread around a little bit to make sure there is still enough revenue to fund the debt service on the bond issue.”
The Parkways Authority will meet at the Tamarack again on December 7. An official date and locations for the public meetings have not yet been determined.