CHARLESTON, W.Va. — With a crush of interest and a line around the building outside, the state Parkways Authority voted in an emergency meeting to extend a special deal on EZPass.
The offer now tentatively expires on Jan. 11, rather than Dec. 31.
But even that might be extended if heavy demand continues.
Now people may show up in person at the Parkways Authority headquarters in Charleston, use a web portal, mail in an application or fax it by the new Jan. 11 date.
Each of those methods, plus the Parkways telephone line at 1-800-206-6222, has been surged by people trying to beat the initial deadline.
“After Christmas, it’s like the gates opened and people just poured in here,” said Parkways Authority General Manager Greg Barr.
“All of a sudden they were lined out the door down the steps and in the parking lot. We hadn’t seen that type of activity, not to that extent, before now.”
Responding to the heavy interest — and to public frustration — the Parkways Authority’s governing board met today in a teleconference.
Emergency WVgov Parkways meeting to extend EZ Pass deal availability https://t.co/yJyAiT6QWq
— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) December 28, 2018
Outside, meanwhile, a line began at the back of the building, wound around it and up the stairs. Yellow caution tape and orange highways pylons organized the line.
Those in the line patiently described waiting for a couple of hours to finally see a customer service representative inside.
“We met all kinds of nice friendly people, sitting around chit-chatting,” said Gayle Javins of Boone County. “The people inside are real nice.”
On Piedmont Road, traffic for those trying to find a place to park was comparably bad.
The deal people sought was an early enrollment option on the single fee discount program. That costs $24 for 3 years and provides unlimited travel with a $13 transponder.
The grace period applies only to purchases of the E-ZPass with early enrollment option.
The Turnpike toll increase scheduled for Jan. 1, 2019 will still be effective.
The new toll rates may be found at: https://www.wvturnpike.com.
Providing a price break for West Virginians on the Turnpike has been a goal described by Gov. Jim Justice ever since he took office.
Today, Justice praised the Parkways Authority for its responsiveness.
“My thanks go to the Parkways Authority for their swift action to resolve these issues,” Justice stated.
They have the authority to take additional action at their next meeting if there remains a need. I will continue to monitor this situation closely.”
Although Monday was declared a state holiday for most agencies, the Parkways Authority 3310 Piedmont Road in Charleston will have 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. office hours to handle EZPass orders.
The office does intend to observe the New Year’s holiday Jan. 1.
Parkways employees have also been working evenings and weekends to catch up on processing orders.
That means attention has been focused on customers during the official office hours, while the background work on orders is done after hours.
“I think if people knew they have a little bit more time to sign up, it may alleviate some of the pressure,” Barr said.