I have been reading about turnpike tolls on Interstate 77 between Bluefield and Charleston since I was a young person. I have traveled the turnpike for many years and paid more than my share of tolls. I work for a company in Princeton that does business throughout the state of West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Kentucky and Virginia (and all over the world). My point is, our company pays a significant amount for tolls annually.
The facts are that the tolls are in place to pay back a bond that was issued to finance the construction of this portion of highway. The bond payment will be complete in 2019. Tolls should be removed at that time if that is the reason for the tolls in the first place. That should be the end of the turnpike toll story.
Now, the reality of facts are skewed by politicians to support spending habits that are unquenchable. Is it the needs of our society or the desires of politicians to get re-elected that drive the need for extending the toll on the turnpike from Bluefield to Charleston for maintenance purposes? What about other streams of income that exist such as the gas tax that are used to maintain our state’s highways? Or is I-77 from Bluefield to Charleston excluded from that pool of money?
I offer a solution or a suggestion. Close two of the three toll booths between Bluefield and Charleston. Open three new toll booths, one between Morgantown and Charleston on I-79, one between Parkersburg and Charleston on I-77, one between Huntington and Charleston on I-64. This would give one additional toll booth than currently exists. This will also continue the income stream in a very equitable manner.
I know a bill could be passed to do this all in the name of road maintenance.
Long live the West Virginia Parkways Authority, tongue firmly placed in cheek.
A little footnote to my suggestions, I am a born West Virginian, graduated from West Virginia University and a lifelong resident near the southern part of the state.
Marvin Woodie Jr.