RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) - Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell is asking for the Commonwealth Transportation Board to approve a proposal to delay tolls in Hampton Roads.
The toll delay on the Midtown Tunnel Project could come as soon as Wednesday, when the proposal goes before the CTB in Richmond.
McDonnell said Monday, "I am requesting the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) allocate up to $100 million to cover the costs of delaying tolls until January 2014...This is in addition to the significant funding VDOT has already contributed to the project to the lower tolls. VDOT has also implemented a second toll relief measure. The parties have agreed to limit toll charges for High Street ramps to be built on the new MLK Extension. Vehicles entering or exiting the new extension from the High Street or London Boulevard ramps and taking a local trip in Portsmouth will not be required to pay tolls."
The Virginia Department of Transportation will work with Elizabeth River Crossings in a public-private partnership to extend the Martin Luther King Boulevard and rehabilitate the Midtown and Downtown tunnels. Throughout the project, VDOT will maintain ownership.
The entire project is expected to cost an estimated $2.1 billion.
Last Friday, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced approval of a $422 million loan that would aid in the construction of a new Midtown Tunnel and rehabilitation to existing tunnels.
Monday, McDonnell said the project will move forward now that the financial close has been reached.
"We would like to thank the U.S. Department of Transportation for approving a $422 million TIFIA loan to help pay for construction, making financial close possible and lowering the projected tolls. Once this project is completed, motorists will save about a half-hour round trip everyday plus benefit from a much improved transportation network that will better connect the region, stimulate the local economy and create jobs," McDonnell added.
"I don't care how you slice this pie, it is a bad deal," said State Senator Louise Lucas, who represents the 18th district.
Lucas said she believes the governor signed a bad contract.
"He has not done the responsible thing and that's to come up with a long term fix for our transportation problem," Lucas added.
Lucas herself wanted the tolls delayed, but she also wants them reduced and the money needed for transportation generated through taxes.
"The public now has an appetite for increasing some fees and some taxes to take care of these transportation issues because they don't want to pay those tolls on a daily basis," she continued.
"Basically, what we're trying to do is keep the project moving ahead deal with some of the local concerns about the tolls, as well as the impacts particularly on the city of Portsmouth," said Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton.
WAVY.com has been following this story daily and has interviewed the Portsmouth city mayor , Gov. Bob McDonnell , Va. Secretary of Transportation , State Senator Louise Lucas , and former governor Tim Kaine .
Stay with WAVY.com for more on this developing story.
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