(The Center Square) – To reduce road toll costs for some drivers in the Hampton Roads area, Virginia is increasing funds for the Toll Relief Program, Gov. Ralph Northam announced.
The program’s funding will increase to $3.2 million in 2022, which is about 600% higher than the current allotted funds, and go up by another 3.5% each subsequent year. This will provide relief to low-income drivers who use the midtown and downtown tunnel roads. Drivers who make less than $30,000 per year can receive the relief, which the state expects will save the average person about $650 every year.
Virginia is partnering with Elizabeth River Crossings, which owns the Elizabeth River Tunnels.
“This will make it significantly more affordable for working people to use the tunnels in Hampton Roads,” Northam said in a statement. “The Commonwealth and the Elizabeth River Crossing team are making commuting easier, and that is something we can all be proud of.”
The program allows eligible drivers to receive a 50% discount on their tolls on five round trips every week, which is designed to help people who commute to work on those roads. The new funding also more than doubles the number of drivers eligible to receive the discount and ends a rule that required a minimum number of trips to be taken before qualifying for the discount.
When the funding goes into effect, drivers will also be able to apply for the rebate on a daily basis, rather than a monthly basis as per the current rules.
“This is our commitment to easing the financial burden that we know our tolls have on income restrained residents,” Elizabeth River Crossings Chief Executive Officer David Sullivan said in a statement. “We feel it’s our duty to connect them to relief that they can count on. This $2.7 million increase in toll reduction funding is the most significant commitment our company has ever made to the community. We’re excited to see how the program will improve and the impact it will have on those who need it most.”
According to the governor’s office, the new state funds will also allow them to consider other improvements in 2023.