RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) - The battle to keep tolls off the tunnels in Hampton Roads continued Monday.
The state Secretary of Transportation spoke before the House of Delegates Appropriations Committee in Richmond about a lawsuit challenging the tolling of the Downtown and Midtown Tunnel lawsuit.
Last month, a circuit court judge ruled that tolling the two tunnels was unconstitutional. Members of the citizens group, Citizens Against Unfair Tolls , that filed the lawsuit, boarded a bus early Monday morning to attend the Appropriations meeting as well.
WAVY.com spoke to two members of the grassroots group about what they hoped to accomplish at the meeting.
"We're going to fight this unfair toll lawsuit all the way to the State Supreme Court until we get it resolved in the best interest of the citizens of Portsmouth, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and for the Hampton Roads area," said Citizens Against Unfair Tolls member Roger Cornett.
The State Supreme Court is exactly where the Virginia Department of Transportation and Elizabeth River Crossings plan to take their appeals. VDOT partnered with ERC to install the tolls at the tunnels to help pay for the new Midtown Tunnel. In a show of confidence, ERC is already installing the tolling sensors
on the tunnels.
"Well, I think that is totally irresponsible on their part, but they feel totally that they are going to come out on top in the Supreme court," group member Glenna Cornett said. "That is what they are counting on."
The group is hoping once the state hears how divisive and costly the tolls will be on Hampton Roads residents, they will reconsider the state's position in the lawsuit.
"If these tolls go into effect, it's going to divide cities," Cornett said. "The people from Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Suffolk and all the tourists, in my opinion, will turn around go back if they think they're going to have to pay a $10 toll to go back and forth through these tunnels."
Citizens Against Unfair Tolls believes tolling is not the only way to pay for the new Midtown tunnel.
"A lot of people I have talked to have no problem at all having the taxes increased and put in a lockbox for transportation," Glenna Cornett said.
The group also plans to speak out against the Private-Public Transportation Act, the legislation that allowed VDOT and ERC to partner together to place toll in the tunnels.
10 On Your Side's Andy Fox was the only Hampton Roads television reporter at the Appropriations meeting. Fox learned that if the State Supreme Court agrees with the lower court's ruling, and the toll deal is dismantled, it would cost taxpayers $700 million.
Go to http://citizensforaccountabilityinpolitics.org/ for details on the trip and the group's lawsuit.
A routine traffic stop in Chesapeake resulted in a three-city pursuit Friday morning.
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