On December 7, we reported here on a press conference by northern Virginia legislators calling for the suspension of “highway robbery” (to quote State Sen. Jennifer Wexton, who used that phrase at the press conference) tolls on I-66. Well, a bit earlier today on WTOP’s “Ask the Governor” show, Gov. McAuliffe struck back hard at those legislators. For the audio, see below. A few highlights of McAuliffe’s comments, almost all of which I agree with, are:
- According to McAuliffe, referring to the legislators: “some people’s memories are a little foggy…let’s just deal with the facts.”
- McAuliffe correctly argued that I-66 was one of the most congested major roads in America, and that “doing nothing was not an option.”
- McAuliffe also pointed out, as he’s done many times previously, that the only people these tolls apply to is solo drivers who were not legally allowed on the road previously. So, it’s their option whether or not to pay the tolls, take an alternate route (side note: McAuliffe kept referring incorrectly, by the way, to “ulterior,” as opposed to “arterial” roads), carpool, take the bus or Metrorail, etc.
- McAuliffe noted that the average tolls so far, after 9 days, are actually BELOW what had been projected ($13.87 actual vs. $17 projected), that only 17 drivers chose to pay the infamous $44 toll, and that the average speed has gone from 38 mph to 58 mph.
- With regard to the legislators complaining about the tolls, McAuliffe said: “I’ve seen some of the politicians writing letters; you know, either they have foggy memories but they all – they all – voted for this bill. Many of the people who wrote me a letter stood next to me at a press conference in the Patrick Henry building. Now they’re out squawking. So you know, being in politics is about leadership; you’re entitled to your opinion, you’re not entitled to your own set of facts.”
- McAuliffe added: “I would just tell these legislators, either you read the legislation you sign [sic; he obviously meant “vote for” not “sign”] or you didn’t, I’m not quite sure what it is. But if I’m a voter I want to ask why did you sign [sic] the bill if you didn’t know what it had in it…look at all the press releases.”