Terry McAuliffe is the kind of governor who prides himself as a good-doer who works to benefit the hard-working people of Virginia.
When it comes to his efforts in Northern Virginia, however, somebody should design a T-shirt that says #RoadGrinchofVirginia.
Simply put, the new high-occupancy toll roads in the northern part of the commonwealth are highway bandits.
It’s an inside-the-Beltway scam for cars and trucks crossing the Potomac River into the nation’s capital and nearby Maryland for work, business, shopping and school during rush hour.
Here’s the scheme: A one-way morning-rush drive along I-66 from Merrifield, Virginia, to the Beltway exit nearest the District could nearly quadruple to $34.50 for single-occupant vehicles. The road trip is an estimated 11 miles.
In fact, the toll cost could be even higher since there is no cap.
And what’s still more distressful is the fact motorists will have to pay high rates to return home or pick up the kiddies at day care during evening rush.
Add to that the possibility of police nabbing a driver for texting or trying to warn their kids and husband by cellphone of the new higher rates. They could be hit with a distracted-driving citation, too.
And here’s another rub, all motorists using the Express Lanes, whether driving solo or car pooling, must have a $35 E-ZPass device to pay the cashless tolls or one set to “HOV” flex mode to earn free rides. Motorcycles are exempt. (Oy vey!)
Mr. McAuliffe’s people explained that some motorists could pay as little as $9 or $10 one way, or much higher toll costs because the pricing is based on traffic volume along I-66 and the time of day, and the toll costs fluctuate constantly.
For example, a reporter tweeted that at 5:57 a.m. Monday the toll was $5.25; at 6:26 a.m., it was $9.25; and at 7:02 a.m., it was $14.50. The more vehicles, the more the rates ratchet upward.
Virginia Department of Transportation officials have even adopted the name “dynamic tolling” for the scheme, and they and Mr. McAuliffe support the project to help boost car pooling and the use of mass transit.
In taxpayer speak, the translation is new money for the anti-motorist movement.
For some Virginians and other taxpayers who motor from the city and into Northern Virginia in the reverse, their daily round-trip commute of $60 could easily pull $15,000 from their bank accounts annually.
The Grinch — i.e., Mr. McAuliffe — decided to begin stealing Christmas 2017 a few years back. Now, as he begins to exit stage left, Mr. McAuliffe reveals how he’s taking money directly out of the hands of his favorite constituency: the hard-working people of Virginia.
Still to know, Gov.-elect Ralph Northam could reverse his fellow Democratic predecessor.
• Deborah Simmons can be contacted at [email protected]
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