- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 31, 2003

HAMPTON, Va. (AP) — City managers and county administrators in southeastern Virginia have drafted a transportation plan that includes putting a toll at the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel for the first time since 1976.

Money raised would help pay for about $8 billion worth of regional highway improvements, according to the plan drafted this week.

The Hampton Roads Planning District Commission, made up of elected city and county officials, will meet June 18 to vote on the plan, said Dwight Farmer, the commission’s deputy executive director for transportation. The toll amount would be from 75 cents to $4.50, he said.

Before the commission could impose a toll, the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration and the Virginia General Assembly would also have to approve the plan.

So far, only Hampton opposes the recommendation. Hampton City Council members said the city will not agree to the plan unless it is revised to include some provision to improve road conditions at the bridge-tunnel, which connects Norfolk and Hampton. “We will be publicly in opposition to it,” council member Randy Gilliland said.

The city planned to send letters to elected officials in every other Hampton Roads city and county to seek support for improvements to the bridge-tunnel as well as a study to see what projects the region needs now.

The plan also includes five projects that were to have been financed by a sales-tax increase if a referendum had not failed in November:

• Building a third bridge-tunnel across Hampton Roads at a cost of $4.5 billion;

• Widening Interstate 64 to six lanes up to the New Kent County line ($1.1 billion);

• Upgrading U.S. Route 460 for motorists entering or leaving South Hampton Roads ($642 million);

• Building the Southeastern Parkway in southern Virginia Beach ($1 billion);

• Adding a tube to the Midtown Tunnel, between Norfolk and Portsmouth, to expand it from two to four lanes ($686 million).

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