20 January 2010

Toll Roads in West Virginia

Gov. Joe Manchin plans to propose allowing the state agency that runs the West Virginia Turnpike "to operate additional toll roads in the state," The Charleston Gazette and others report.

Both that newspaper and The Register-Herald view the soon-to-be-filed legislation as a sign of the administration "moving toward the pay-as-you-drive concept to get more key highways built."

Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox told lawmakers that "U.S. 35 is one of only two highway projects in the state that are projected to produce enough traffic to justify operating as toll roads," The Gazette reported. "The other is U.S. 522 in Morgan County in the Eastern Panhandle."

The Beckley newspaper, meanwhile, noted that "Mattox voiced serious doubts that toll booths would ever come online along either the King Coal Highway or Coalfields Expressway, both designed to serve isolated residents in southern counties."

Mattox also told the Senate Transportation Committee that "the West Virginia section of the Mon-Fayette Expressway, linking Interstate 68 in Monongalia County to Pittsburgh, will be a toll road when it comes on line later this year," the Charleston newspaper said. "The state has signed an agreement with the Pennsylvania Turnpike Authority to collect West Virginia's portion of the toll for the 4.2-mile section of the 70-mile expressway that will be in the Mountain State."

The Charleston Daily Mail also has coverage, and includes the director of the Turnpike's agency. "Parkways Authority General Manager Greg Barr said he's not yet clear on how the agreement would shake out, but he believes it makes good fiscal sense," that article said.

The Daily Mail reports as well that 'Mattox also asked committee members to consider raising Department of Motor Vehicles fees, which have not gone up since 1971, to help offset predicted revenue shortfalls."

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