CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Users of the West Virginia Turnpike are making a mad dash to the state Parkways Authority to get their hands on a $24 three-year unlimited use pass for the 88-mile toll road before Monday’s Dec. 31 deadline.

Phone lines at the Parkways’ headquarters in Charleston were consistently busy Wednesday, the agency’s website was taking in a large number of applications and the line at the Parkways office was out the door for most of the day.

“I don’t travel that much but we will be pretty soon this year and in years to come,” April Hildebrand of St. Albans told MetroNews after purchasing her pass. “With the increase this is a phenomenal deal.”

Those who don’t purchase the pass early can purchase it after Jan. 1 but it will cost $25 a year instead of $24 for three years. The incentive to get the unlimited pass is also tied to tolls increasing on the Turnpike come Jan. 1. A passenger vehicle, without the pass, will pay $4 per toll plaza instead of $2 per plaza, that’s a $24 round trip from Charleston to Princeton. There are also toll increases for other vehicle classifications.

Nicole, who didn’t want to give her last name, said she lives in Boone County and goes to the beach twice a year. She said the $24 pass will essentially give her five ‘toll-free’ trips.

“One round trip pays for our EZ pass for three years,” she said.

The Parkways Authority has added a number of workers and created a night shift to handle the internet orders. It also has extra office staff processing the walk-ins.

Parkways Authority General Manager Greg Barr predicted the late year surge when he spoke with MetroNews in early October.

“Hopefully we’ve hit the peek on this initial surge and it will start to level off and then there will probably be another surge around Christmastime when people realize they only have until Dec. 31st to get the $24 pass,” Barr said at the time.

Lewisburg resident Wanda Johnson said Wednesday she’s never had an EZ pass but decided to come to Charleston to take advantage of the discount.

“It’s good to get the deal. I have family and sometimes we have to travel when going places,” she said.

Those who haven’t previously been Turnpike customers are also required to purchase a one-time $13 fee to cover the cost of the transponder.

The deeply discounted EZ pass was announced by Gov. Jim Justice not longer after he took office in January 2017. State lawmakers approved the program later that year. Members of the Parkways Authority included it as part of a toll increase plan that will pay off millions of dollars new bonds that will be used to build new roads and bridges in 10 southern West Virginia counties.

White Sulphur Springs Pastor Kathie Holland said she’s made numerous trips to the Parkways Authority offices over the last few months. She said she’s been spreading the good news about the discount.

“I bought three ladies down in October and two weeks ago I was here and picked up three for people in my church,” she said. “I think it was an awesome deal that was offered by the governor. I think it was something that should have been done years ago. But now—everyone in may family has one.”

More information is available at 1-800-206-6222 or at wvturnpike.com.

MetroNews Statewide Correspondent Brad McElhinny contributed to this story. 

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