Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

January 9, 2014

Tolls needed for ’pike maintenance

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — On the recent commentary by Bill Seaver, I would like to say I totally agree with his statements.  Previously, I selfishly thought the tolls should be removed for two reasons. First of all, I wouldn’t have to pay the fee, and, secondly, I wouldn’t have to stop three times to pay the toll. Now, I do not want the tolls to be removed.

First of all, the loss of 400 jobs as Bill mentioned in his commentary; secondly, who pays the majority of the turnpike tolls? I don’t know the exact figure, but I would estimate West Virginians only pay 10 percent and the others are paid by people and businesses from other states.  With the EZ Pass, I can proceed without stopping at the toll booth and the cost is only $1.20 at each booth. Thus, the cost to drive to Charleston is $3.60.

You can drive from Princeton to Charleston in less than one and a half hours. If anyone has ever driven the old road (U.S. 19) that takes more than two hours, they would probably be willing to pay $20 to drive the turnpike. We travel a lot to Florida and California, and there you can pay $5 or more to go less than 10 miles. Construction and maintenance in those states are also less expensive than in the mountains of West Virginia with the severe winter weather conditions.

I feel the turnpike could use a lot of resurfacing now and, if the tolls were removed, where would the money come from to do the necessary maintenance and resurfacing? If I were to offer an alternative to removing the tolls, why not offer West Virginia residents the EZ Pass, at no charge, after paying off the bonds.

Nick Ameli Jr.