Thanks to Del. Marcus Simon for calmly, rationally, methodically laying out – with those pesky things known as “facts” (heh) – what the deal is with inside-the-Beltway I-66 tolling. See below for the short section (~7 minutes) where I think he really lays it out concisely, in a nutshell. Also see below for the full video, in which Del. Simon responds to questions from constituents (and others). I’d really love to see this type of discourse by other elected officials, and also by politicians running in VA-10, etc., rather than angry tweets or other such unhelpful behavior. Again, thanks to Del. Simon for treating us like intelligent adults…
- Tolls are not about raising money, “this is not privately owned” or “for the benefit of any corporation”; “VDOT owns this facility inside the Beltway”…people have this project “confused with the Beltway HOT lanes and with the 66 outside the Beltway.”
- Tolls are about “changing people’s travel patterns and behavior”
- The money raised will “stay in the corridor and will be used by multimodal improvements.”
- This is about selling excess capacity on the HOV lanes, because “most of us couldn’t use those lanes…anyway,” but they were getting “clogged up and bogged down” with folks who claimed to be coming from Dulles Airport (that exemption is gone), with carpoolers who had hybrids that were grandfathered in and “cheaters” (who were bogging down I-66).
- Why are tolls as high as $35-$40? a) those are only for going from “end to end” but b) “it’s really not designed to be paid….it is designed to keep single occupancy vehicles from getting on the road…because they want to keep the traffic flowing…or those HOV folks.” It is NOT “price gouging,” “that’s not what it’s about.”
- VDOT has promised some stats on what the average toll that people are paying really is, probably VERY few people actually paying $35 or $40.
- There are big benefits to these tolls, as they make the road useful for people who live in the area – Del. Simon provides a great example where he paid 50 cents and was able to pick up his daughter, drop her off at home in McLean and them make a meeting in Merrifield, something he couldn’t have done a week ago. “It helped our family…that’s a 50 cent toll that helped me get from point A to point B in literally half the time.”
And now, for how NOT to communicate with the public, here’s Rep. Barbara Comstock. As is her wont, Comstock unhelpfully demagogues the issue. I don’t know about you, but after she votes for the GOP tax monstrosity, which will screw over her constituents in VA-10, it’s very hard to take seriously her new-found “outrage” over supposed harm to her VA-10 constituents (again, note that previously, solo drivers couldn’t legally use I-66 inside the Beltway during rush hour, now can CHOOSE to use it for a fee, or call Uber/Lyft, or take Metro, or carpool, etc. and not pay any toll at all – their choice).
I sent the below letter tonight to Virginia Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne regarding the exorbitant and outrageous tolls that have gone into effect on I-66. https://t.co/YiKAy8XVS6 #VA10 pic.twitter.com/FajhLM81io
— Barbara Comstock (@RepComstock) December 6, 2017