BECKLEY, W.Va. — At their monthly meeting Thursday at Tamarack, the West Virginia Parkways Authority approved a couple of purchases and prepared for a series of public meetings being held across the southern region of the state.

In anticipation of high demand for the proposed single fee discount program, the group approved the purchase of 150,000 EZ Pass transmitters costing $1,110,000. The proposal would allow transmitter holders to only pay a one time rate of $24 for three-years of unlimited use of the West Virginia Turnpike if they purchase before January 1, 2019.

After that date, the fee would be $25 annually. Tolls for cash-paying travelers would double; from $2 to $4 for passenger vehicles and different commercial classes under the proposal.

“The bottom line is, because we’re expecting so many new customers we’ve had to order transponders,” said Parkways Authority General Manager Gregg Barr. “We’ll have those on hand by August 1. We anticipate August is when we’ll roll out this new discount program. Then we may have to buy more transponders. We’ll make make that decision when we see what kind of activity we experience.”

Those who already own West Virginia EZ Pass transponders will receive a notice about the new program. Unless the customer opts out of the program, their account will automatically move to the new program after a follow-up notice.

The Parkways Authority also spent time in their meeting preparing for a round of public meetings. Those four meetings are intended for people to ask questions about the proposed toll program:

  • Thursday, May 10 at Riverside High School in Quincy: 4 pm – 7:30 pm
  • Friday, May 11 at the Fayette County Courthouse: 4 pm – 7:30 pm
  • Monday, May 14 at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center: 4 pm – 7:30 pm
  • Tuesday, May 15 at the Mercer County Courthouse: 5 – 8:30 pm

“I think the board members are anxious to see and hear the raw comments,” said Barr. “They don’t want them polished, they don’t want them cleaned up, they don’t want answers. They want to know what the public is saying and thinking. That does, in fact, impact the board’s thinking and decision of what to do.”

The proposed toll program is part of Governor Jim Justice’s Roads to Prosperity bill passed by voters last year. The final adoption of the program is scheduled for June 7.

The Parkways Authority also approved a request from the Economic Development and Tourism Committee for a new entry sign near the entrance of Tamarack. Barr said the new sign will be about 40 percent larger and will have updated features to draw more attention to it.

“The sign out there now is 22 years old. That wood has aged, it’s starting to fall apart basically. So the idea is to put in another sign at the same location, but it will be made out of aluminum and more modern materials that won’t be as susceptible to the elements.”

It will also have an electronic message board showcasing events at the facility. The design of the new sign will match signage at the neighboring Beckley Travel Plaza.

 

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