Legislation to remove tolls along the West Virginia Turnpike has passed its first test, with state House members voting to advance it to the Senate.
The bill would remove them along the 88-mile route once the bonds used to build the road and for improvements are paid off by February 2020. Maintenance of the turnpike would then be turned over to a division of the state transportation department, but would leave the West Virginia Parkways Authority intact.
Some lawmakers who support removing tolls along the route acknowledge that tolls could later be on other routes in West Virginia, as the state has to find new sources of revenue to repair and expand existing roads as well as build new ones.
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has expressed reservations about removing the tolls and has described the legislation as premature because a blue ribbon commission is scheduled to issue a report this summer about West Virginia road needs, well after the current legislative session ends.
The current rate at all mainline toll plazas for a typical five-axle truck is $6.75 while it’s $2 for four-wheelers. It’s $1.60 and 40 cents for a five-axle rig and passenger vehicle, respectively, for those using the North Beckley Plaza. There are discounts for EZPass users.