PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — A big break is coming for eligible drivers in Hampton Roads.

If you live anywhere in the region and make less than $50,000 a year and drive through the Downtown or Midtown tunnels, you can apply for the expanded toll relief program beginning Tuesday.

“We want people to take advantage and we want them to start saving on every trip that they take,” said Carley​ Brierre, Elizabeth River Crossings communications manager.

Previously, the program was only open to those making less than $30,000 a year, and only for those who live in Portsmouth or Norfolk.

“We’ve taken the two biggest things that greatly narrow the number of people for this program in prior years and we expanded those to welcome more participants,” Brierre said.

Brierre tells 10 On Your Side that eligible drivers can receive a 50% discount on up to 10 trips per week, saving them up to $650 per year.

“You can enroll anytime and you’ll start receiving those discounts right away,” Brierre said.

Over the years, Old Dominion University’s Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy has studied the impacts of tolls on Hampton Roads. 

“When we have tolls, it provides a financial impairment,” said Dr. Vinod Agarwal, deputy director of the Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy. “Tolls impact economic development. Tolls do impact where people choose to live and where people choose to work.”

Next year, ERC will use $3.3 million for the program and that number will increase every year.

“We want to make sure that the money is there, the resources are there,” Brierre said.

She said the ERC tolls do not impact taxes.

“Toll revenues go toward the ongoing cost of operating and maintaining these facilities, as well,” Brierre said. “As the debt that was incurred when Elizabeth River Crossings built the new Midtown tunnel and did a lot of fire, life and safety improvements throughout the other tunnels back in 2014.”

Residents must apply in-person at the following locations:

Norfolk E-ZPass Customer Service Center

1701 Church St.
Norfolk, Virginia 23504
Hours: Monday – Friday: 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Saturday: 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Portsmouth E-ZPass Customer Service Center

4010 Victory Boulevard
Portsmouth, Virginia 23701
Hours: Monday – Friday: 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Saturday: 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Portsmouth Drive ERT Customer Care Center

309 County St.
Portsmouth, Virginia 23704
Hours: Monday – Friday: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Learn more about the proof of residency requirements.