CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) - 10 On Your Side reporter Andy Fox attended the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization meeting today where he said the mood was tense as the ongoing debate of tunnel tolls was discussed.
The meeting took place at the Hampton Roads Regional Board Room in Chesapeake.
CTB members expressed support for tolls at the Downtown and Midtown tunnels. During the meeting, CTB member Aubrey Lane said the tolls are "the only option."
At the meeting Thursday, WAVY.com discovered another way out of the comprehensive agreement between VDOT and the Elizabeth River Crossing Private Partners. In Section 20.07 (a), there's a "Termination for Convenience" clause, which provides a walk-away if the toll deal is reworked or becomes so unpopular it can not be supported in Richmond.
Chesapeake Delegate John Cosgrove does not think it is good business to have a deal go so far just to back out.
"If we do that, who is going to step up in the future..." Cosgrove added.
But Suffolk Delegate Chris Jones knows for many there is no middle ground on the toll issue
"If we can not have the tolls reduced or the timing of the tolls delayed then...I do not think this is a good deal for the region," Jones explained.
Jones isn't sure whether there will be tolls, but he has called Governor Bob McDonnell's office to remind them about the little known clause.
The clause reads:
" The Department may terminate this Agreement and any other Project Agreement...at any time...if it determines that...a termination is in the best interests of the Department."
Terminating the deal would cost Virginia around $12 million.
WAVY.com was told that Governor McDonnell's office is aware of a growing chorus of legislators who are basically saying, "If you can't get a better deal, walk away."
McDonnell has not signed the final financial agreement for the project, but could do so by the end of March. If he signs the deal, the termination costs could soar to about $30 million.
When asked what he thought a reasonable toll would be, Jones said, "I don't know $1 is a target we can shoot for, but only after the work is complete."
The current proposed toll is $1.84 for cars during rush hour.
State Senator Louise Lucas announced Thursday that she will submit a bill asking for the delay of the tolling project during a special session of the General Assembly March 21. The bill would delay the tolls until 2014.
Wet weather is expected to move into the area over the weekend, forcing some areas to cancel or change their holiday events.
Four vehicles were involved in a crash on Route 17 in Gloucester Friday morning.
Hampton Police want to prevent crime and have remixed a holiday classic to deter thieves from being Grinches.