PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine was in Portsmouth on Wednesday talking about ways to bring some toll relief.
She attended a meeting with the Elizabeth River Task Force, which is working to do the same thing.
“So, we could align our missions, see how we could work together and make some solid collaborative recommendations,” Valentine told 10 On Your Side.
They all agreed buying out the contract with Elizabeth River Crossings will likely never happen. That would cost a minimum of $1.1 billion.
“You know we’re going to have tolls, that’s just a reality,” said task force member and longtime toll opponent Terry Danaher.
She had all but but given up six months ago, but after this meeting she has hope. “I wasn’t sure what we were going to accomplish today, but I feel now that we really have a working partnership with the state that was lacking before.”
She believes that as a group, they may be able to affect how much we pay in tolls — tolls that increase every year.
“We’re trying to find a solution that actually serves the people who live and work here,” Valentine said.
They all agree that first, they must understand the complicated contract between the commonwealth and Elizabeth River Crossing, as well as the financial and operational impacts to Hampton Roads and the commonwealth.
“I hear from people who say I just can’t handle this anymore, I’m outta here and they get a job someplace else and they leave the region, and we can’t afford that,” Danaher told WAVY.com.
Secretary Valentine is set to make her recommendations to the governor and lawmakers in one year on June 30, 2020.