Virginia governor: MLK Freeway extension will be toll-free

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said late last week that a deal has been struck so that there will not be any tolls on the Martin Luther King (MLK) Freeway extension project in Portsmouth.

Additionally, the agreement includes provisions to reduce toll rates on the Downtown and Midtown tunnel projects to ease the burden on residents with financial difficulties. The MLK, Downtown and Midtown tunnel projects collectively are known as the Elizabeth River Tunnels project.

This agreement is crucial in the governor’s efforts to blunt the financial impact from the major construction improvements on Hampton Roads drivers.

“After a great deal of work, we now have a plan in place to ease the financial pressure of tolling, particularly for Portsmouth residents,” McAuliffe said. “The Elizabeth River Tunnels project must be built to reduce congestion, increase safety and improve the economy. This is the right project, but a bad deal reached under the prior administration. Since I took office, toll rates on the tunnels have been lowered during construction. We have worked with our private-sector partner to ensure there will be no tolls on the MLK extension. Imposing a toll to finance the improvements would have placed an unfair burden on the citizens of Portsmouth. It is not good policy for Portsmouth to bear the cost of this project when it is also sharing the tolling burden with other motorists in the region who travel the Midtown and Downtown tunnels.”

“Regarding the Midtown and Downtown tunnels, there will be some relief to ease the tolling burden on those residents who are the most financially impacted,” Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne said. “Our contractor, Elizabeth River Crossings (ERC), has agreed to pay $500,000 a year for 10 years to help offset the cost of tolls to those toll users who are the most financially stressed. I have directed Deputy Secretary of Transportation Grindly Johnson to lead this effort and work with the local community to ensure these monies are invested in the most beneficial way to ease the financial burden of tolls on those residents who need the help the most.”

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Virginia Department of Transportation

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