Home Terry McAuliffe Audio: On WTOP’s “Ask the Governor,” Terry McAuliffe Hits Back at Legislators’...

Audio: On WTOP’s “Ask the Governor,” Terry McAuliffe Hits Back at Legislators’ Criticisms on I-66 Tolls

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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.”

  • A_Siegel

    With the criticisms thrown TMac’s way for his muddle climate-related policy actions as Governor, worth giving credit to him (Governor McAuliffe) for speaking reasonably forcefully, directly, and substantively here to take on absurdity in those arguing for more polluting transportation (in essence) .

    • Sure, although cutting pollution has little if anything to do with TMac’s stance on the tolls, increased # of I-66 lanes, etc. If anything, the net result of all this will be to encourage sprawl and the car addiction, IMHO.

      • dave schutz

        As an Arlington guy I tend to think, what are the effects in my county. My guess is that it makes the differential between Arlington prices and those in the outer burbs less steep. People will be less willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars more to live very close in, if living further out is more bearable. Is that sprawl? Well, it makes the close in jurisdictions less pressure cookers of rocketing prices
        I think it’s conservation, because it will enable us to get a lot more passengers back and forth in the existing roadway and avoid demand for another 395.

    • Dan

      How about a 40 USD toll around the Richmond governor’s office. I mean pollution is pollution, in Richmond and Arlington. This is just highway robbery. It has nothing to do with pollution, since clean cars are not even exempted. It is a disgusting way to put a tax on people like ME who need to WORK for a LIVING.

      If you people are so concerned with pollution in Arlington why don’t you simply refuse business licenses and force companies to move out of the area?

      • A_Siegel

        The tolling is directly about keeping the highway traffic moving — as Lowkell points out below, this wasn’t about cutting pollution.
        Prior to toll a very high share of usage was single drivers violating the HOV provisions. Supposedly, far fewer of those violations occurring now.
        And, in all seriousness, how many times have you had a $40 toll facing you.

  • Anthony Shifflett

    I listened. I will say I agree with the governor’s tone. Let’s just be patient and see what develops. We have delegates now that seem to care. So let’s see what develops.

    I will say I was dismayed by the response of some of our incoming delegates.

    Almost no one commuting paid $44. What percentage of drivers paid?

    We need a long term plan. Hopefully we have the people in place to get that done.

    • “What percentage of drivers paid?” Miniscule, and these are all people who CHOSE to drive solo, which would have been illegal previously, and to pay the toll.

      • Anthony Shifflett

        And it was surely less than .01% of those on the road. Exactly my point. I work in Chantilly, and all I heard was about $44.

        My thing is that now that we have a more or less unified delegation in the lower house hopefully we can come up with a plan that’ll drive the region to resolution of the problem. And that delegation needs to stand firm and not flinch at the first pinprick (I’m looking at you, Danica Roem).

        I understood her need to say something, but let’s not sell out what’s been done THAT’S RESPONSIBLE to this point.

        People at work were like, “they’re doing this without approval, and it accomplished nothing.” Wrong on all counts. This IS doing something. A start.

        We just need some backbone.

        • Anthony Shifflett

          I will say again that I understood the need to say something. But I would do a more positive reply…

    • Dan

      I did pay 26. and change one day. On top of 3.50. The idea of “alternatives” is a big lie. I work irregular hours, not a 9 to 5 job, so finding people to commute with is a no-starter. The train ain’t where I live and the alternative I have are residential winding streets full of school kids in Arlington.

      I would like to put tolls on all the roads around Richmond and Virginia Beach to see if they like to pay these amounts.

      • What did you use to do before, when it was illegal for solo drivers to be on I-66 during rush hour? Doesn’t this now simply give you another option you didn’t have before?

  • SlugLines

    We seen this drama before when I-95 when HOT. Missed it? Don’t worry we will see the drama when I-395 goes HOT. For now join https://www.facebook.com/groups/I66Sluglines/ and download sluglines mobile app from https://sluglines.com/app to pickup slug and avoid tolls!

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/30371345efcb1b88a09dd6fd056d27a0ac5ccbd9eb92e6650d21ecd2556a6f2c.jpg

  • Dan

    I regret voting for McAuliffe. Next time, I will vote for anybody who promises to put a 40 USD toll on the street McAuliffe lives.