ODU study reveals impact of tolls on Portsmouth

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PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — A new toll impact study conducted by Old Dominion University (ODU) found that four years and four months after the Downtown and Midtown Tunnel Tolls began, that Portsmouth is still negatively impacted.

It’s been long believed that the tolls have taken a toll on Portsmouth’s bottom line, resulting in lost business and lost revenue.This study gives a much clearer view of just how much the city has been hit.

10 On Your Side received an advanced summary of the report, which was presented at Portsmouth City Council’s public work session Tuesday night.

ODU Professor of Economics Dr. Jim Koch presented the facts of what he found at the meeting. In January 2014, when the tolls began, Dr. Koch predicted that tolls would stop people from coming to Portsmouth.

Four years later, Cheryl Freeland, a waitress at Longboards, says that is exactly what has happened.

“Our business has almost been cut in half. No one is making special trips to pay the tolls to come to Portsmouth,” she said.

Dr. Koch estimates that taxable sales citywide have been reduced by more than $2.2 million per quarter because of the tolls. Portsmouth is six times more exposed to toll effects than Virginia Beach and about four times more than Norfolk, the study found.

“The tunnels are a regional facility. And they’re helping the entire region. But it’s Portsmouth that’s paying the most for them easily,” Koch said. “Portsmouth is a city that has relatively lower income … than the rest of the region, so it is being hurt proportionally much more than any other city, including Norfolk.”

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