Tunnels: Tolls at the Midtown Tunnel, pictured, and the Downtown Tunnel begin Saturday. No stopping or cash will be required, so regular commuters should obtain an E-ZPass. (VDOT photo)
Tunnels: Tolls at the Midtown Tunnel, pictured, and the Downtown Tunnel begin Saturday. No stopping or cash will be required, so regular commuters should obtain an E-ZPass. (VDOT photo)

Tolls start Saturday

Published 9:12pm Wednesday, January 29, 2014

More than 72,400 E-ZPass transponders have been issued in the Hampton Roads area in the last three months in preparation for tolls at the Downtown and Midtown tunnels to begin Feb. 1.

The Virginia Department of Transportation also has extended its hours at E-ZPass Customer Service Centers in Norfolk and Portsmouth until Feb. 2, said Karen Meyers, a communications specialist for VDOT.

The tolls are the result of a public-private partnership between VDOT and Elizabeth River Crossings, which will collect the tolls beginning Saturday. Tolls for passenger vehicles are 75 cents during off-peak hours and $1 during peak hours.

Meyers said she believes most drivers are aware of the coming tolls, but everybody having an E-ZPass as soon as tolls start is another matter.

“I think people have an awareness, but I think the closer it gets to any date, there’s going to be people who may wait until it gets closer to get it.”

With the tolls only a few days away, Meyers recommended people who still need their E-ZPass get the on-the-go transponder kits available at many local retail locations.

“At this point, online you have to allow for that mail time,” she said. “You’re looking at a possible three to five business days. People may anticipate a longer wait at the customer service centers. We’re encouraging people to get the on-the-go kit.”

The number of E-ZPasses issued appears to correspond somewhat with the number of vehicles that use the tunnels. According to Meyers, average weekday volumes at the Downtown Tunnel are 95,000, and at the Midtown Tunnel, 40,000.

Each vehicle is counted each way, and half of those volumes is slightly less than the number of transponders issued.

The customer service center at 1701 Church St. in Norfolk will be open from 7 a.m. to midnight through Sunday. In Portsmouth at 4010 Victory Blvd., the center will be open from 9 a.m. to midnight.

In Suffolk, E-ZPass on-the-go kits can be purchased at the treasurer’s offices, 441 Market St. and 2000 Bennetts Creek Park Road, and at the Visitor Center, 524 N. Main St. An on-the-go kit includes the transponder and costs $35. Of the cost, $15 is available immediately for tolls, and the other $20 becomes available once the pass is registered.

For more information, visit www.ezpassva.com.

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