CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Parkways Authority will be looking at ways over the next several months that could one day decrease back-ups at the highway’s three toll plazas.
Parkways Authority General Manager Greg Barr told authority members Thursday options to reduce the delays will part of the discussions Parkways is having on the replacement of its current tolling system.
The toll plaza backups, which are usually connected to holiday traffic, have increased on Saturdays this summer. Barr said it can be linked to the doubling of the tolls during the past year from $2 to $4.
“Now we’ve noticed that almost everybody needs change (to pay their tolls). They are going to give a $5 bill, a $10 or a $20, and most people are paying cash. They don’t have a transponder,” Barr said.
Traffic traditionally increases on the Turnpike on Saturdays in the summer with vacationers heading through West Virginia. Barr said adding a few seconds to make change and the increase of motorists who don’t carry cash have created the back-ups during the last two months. The Turnpike doesn’t take credit cards.
“We used to be able to process 375 vehicles per hour, per lane and it’s down to 335 or 340,” Barr said.
The Turnpike also chooses not to dedicate a lane for EZ passes during the peak Saturday travel times. Barr said traffic would back up even more because only 25 percent of those mostly out-of-state motorists have transponders.
“It would back up into the two-lane so quickly because we would have one less lane and we would be processing even less traffic and the people would be blocked out getting over into the EZ pass lane,” Barr said.
Officials will meet in a strategic planning session next week on replacing the Turnpike’s tolling system. Barr said options for vacation traffic will be part of the discussion.
Also at Thursday’s Parkways Authority meeting:
–approval of the purchase of a Gradall
–rejection of three bids for the Mossy toll plaza canopy replacement project
–approval of bridge work near Mahan