BECKLEY, W.Va. — It appears members of the state Parkways Authority will make a few minor adjustments to the proposed toll increase plan for the West Virginia Turnpike set for a final vote Thursday in Beckley.
One change will likely be a rounding-up or down of proposed increases for the North Beckley toll plaza where the turnpike intersects with U.S. Route 19. Parkways Authority General Manager Gregg Barr said the original proposal would have probably caused motorists to spend too much time looking for spare change. The proposal will shift the toll up or down to the nearest 25-cent mark, Barr said.
“So that will be 75-cents instead of 80-cents or a $1.50 instead of $1.60. It’s a minor adjustment but it will keep traffic from backing up,” Barr said.
Authority members may also continue their discussions Thursday about proposed additional toll reductions for veterans and school buses. Those proposals may not have the support they need to make it into the final plan.
Barr said the authority will propose using the additional toll money to sell $172 million in bonds for southern West Virginia highway projects. A one-year old state law allows the authority to sell up to $300 million in bonds but Barr said they want to make sure the new revenue structure is sound before selling the rest.
The highlight of the new toll plan is the deeply discounted single fee for unlimited use of the Turnpike.
“For a nominal fee of $24 they (passenger vehicle motorists) get unlimited use of the Turnpike (for three years),” Barr said.
There are currently 45,000 Turnpike users who have transponders as part of their use of the highway. Barr said those motorists won’t have to change transponders to be part of the discounted pass program.
“We’re going to automatically convert them to the new program. So they won’t have to do anything,” Barr said.
Those without transponders will be charged a one-time fee of $13 for the transponder along with the $24 fee for three years use of the Turnpike.
For those motorists without the new pass or the regular EZ Pass tolls will basically double; from $2 to $4 for passenger vehicles and doubling for the various commercial classes. Existing EZ pass discounts would remain in place.
Thursday’s meeting is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center.