The Oldtown Low-Water Toll Bridge on the North Branch of the Potomac River in western Maryland faces major regulatory obstacles to raising tolls. Already one owner John F Teter has chucked it in, frustrated with what he said was the state's "endless paperwork" - from a state regulator in Baltimore called the Maryland Public Service Commission (MPSC).
Republican candidate for governor of West Virginia Bill Maloney says the state needs to look at selling the Turnpike or putting it out to the private sector on a longterm lease. "We need to think differently than we have before. I don't have all the answers, but there are a lot of people with answers," he told the Beckley Register-Herald recently.
"We need to look at other states and see what they have done," Maloney said.
The West Virginia secretary of transportation Paul Mattox says the 4.5 mile, 7.2km segment of the Mon Fayette Expressway, Route 43 in his state between I-68 and the bulk of the tollroad in Pennsylvania will open without a toll next month.
The state Senate in West Virginia recently voted down enabling legislation for toll development of US35. The legislation SB606 sponsored by the state governor would have provided authority for sale of $80m of toll revenue bonds plus a backup pledge of up to $8m/yr lottery monies. It passed the finance and transportation committees but was defeated on the floor of the Senate by a 21 to 12 vote.
West Virginia Turnpike staff and contractors are busy with new toll systems. They're doing their first toll system rebuild on the Turnpike itself since their original electronic system was installed for the introduction of E-ZPass in 1999. And they're acting as a toll collection contractor for West Virginia DOT on two other toll projects - Mon Fayette Expressway (WV43) and US35. (NOTE CORRECTION AT END)
West Virginia's Parkways Authority so-called (it has no Parkway) that runs the state Turnpike, cosigned I-77/I-64 through the Appalachian Mountains, is taking on two new toll projects. Their board of directors this week approved the Authority managing:
- a short stretch of about 4 miles, 7km in West Virginia of the far southern end of the Mon Fayette Expressway from the Pennsylvania state line to an interchange with I-68 near Cheat Lake/Morgantown
- 32 miles, 51km of US35 being upgraded from a rural 2 laner to a new parallel 4 lane expressway
West Virginia's US-35 tollroad project moved ahead this week with signing of memorandum of understanding between the state Turnpike authority and the state department of transportation (WVDOT) that details the roles and responsibilities of each.
West Virginia senate majority leader Truman Chafin (Democrat) wanted to legislate for a special $1 toll at the state turnpike's three mainline toll plazas for residents of four counties (Kanawha, Fayette, Raleigh and Mercer) adjoining the Turnpike but he ran into a head-on conflict with the US Constitution.
Someone asked recently what were the three toughest PR jobs in tolling in north America. The answer in ascending order of difficulty:
West Virginia Turnpike authority has taken delivery of four emergency median barrier gates. They will be installed in a mountainous stretch of the Turnpike where interchanges and access are distant. The purchase follows a furore over some hundreds of motorists trapped in their cars for up to 24 hours during the pre-Christmas blizzard and some 40 inches (1m) of snow in ten hours. Traffic was backed up for miles by tractor-trailers jack-knifing on ice and multiple rear-ender collisions.