Lawmaker pushes back against proposed EZ Pass fee

Posted at 2:27 PM, Jun 15, 2012
and last updated 2012-06-15 14:28:12-04

RICHMOND, Va (WTVR) -  We don't want to pay, to pay--that's the major feedback from Virginians when the department of transportation opened up public comment on a proposed one dollar a month fee for EZ Pass holders.

Now, at least one state politician is backing their stance.

VDOT received nearly 25,000 comments from EZ Pass users, and local district representative Manoli Loupassi says he's been talking to many in the area who are very much against paying any more to use the tolls.

That's what prompted him to send a strongly worded letter to the Virginia Highway Commissioner Gregory Whirley, Senior.

In that letter Loupassi tells the commissioner that his constituents are telling him they're against the new fees,  and VDOT's argument that the $1 monthly fee will help them keep up with the costs of operating the tolls and building new ones or fixing old ones isn't a good plan.

Loupassi says he's not against taxation or fees--saying they are necessary evils--but the added cost to generate nearly $14 million a year would be heaped upon EZ Pass users unfairly.

"Right now if you take the downtown expressway it's going to cost you 75 cents," Loupassi told CBS 6. "Two or three of those cents goes to pay for all the toll collection and all the rest of it. 

"If they add on an extra dollar fee to everyone's transponder per month, are they gonna lower the tolls? No.  They're just going to get get doubled."

EZ Pass costs VDOT $10 million a year to operate. However, VDOT officials are projecting the cost will increase to around $15 million in the coming years due to new toll facilities and the expected increase in users. Officials say they've seen the dollar fee being used to help other states like Maryland and Pennsylvania.

VDOT says if the fee is passed, it would reduce future toll increases for everyone, and would eventually eliminate the $25 deposit you pay for the transponders in your car.

If approved by the Commonwealth Transportation Board, the new fee would take effect in July of 2012.