For Immediate Release:
March 23, 2017
Office of the Governor, Heather Fluit, Heather.Fluit@governor.virginia.gov
Governor McAuliffe Proposes Budget Amendment to Alleviate Financial Burden of Hampton Roads Toll Violation Collections Process
~Macquarie-Skanska partnership’s toll violation collections process on the Elizabeth River Tunnels has raised serious concerns~
PORTSMOUTH – Today at Portsmouth City Hall, Governor Terry McAuliffe announced a proposed budget amendment in response to the Macquarie-Skanska partnership’s handling of toll violation collections on the Elizabeth River Tunnels, another step to help alleviate the burden of a poorly negotiated contract by the previous administration.
The amendment closes a loophole to help reduce fees imposed on first-time offenders. It would prohibit the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles from placing administrative registration holds on vehicles unless the Macquarie-Skanska partnership offers motorists the option to settle their toll violations with a cap of $2,200.
“The recent actions by the Macquarie-Skanska partnership are the epitome of bad corporate citizenship,” said Governor McAuliffe. “The Macquarie-Skanska partnership is charging amounts greater than $2,200 for first-time toll violators. They are settling out of court at amounts far greater than the limits set in the agreement we made in 2015 to eliminate tolling on the MLK Freeway Extension and in 2016 legislation. This is a violation of the spirit of our agreement and further undermines the partnership’s standing in the Hampton Roads region.”
Currently, toll facilities take cases to court at their discretion. Without going to court, individuals do not have an option to settle their toll violations with a cap of $2,200 – and often end up paying significantly more money.
“I stand with Governor McAuliffe in working to provide toll relief for the residents of Portsmouth and Norfolk,” said Lieutenant Governor Northam. “The recent reports of outrageous and unreasonable fines are inexcusable, and we will work together to use every tool at our disposal to bring about much needed reform and relief.”
Last year, Governor McAuliffe championed House Bill 1069, sponsored by Delegate Chris Jones, reforming the Commonwealth’s toll violation process and establishing consumer protections for drivers charged with toll violations, including:
- Capping civil penalties and administrative fees that can be recovered for first-time offenders at court at $2,200 regardless of the number of violations;
- Establishing a 10-day grace period. Virginia toll facilities are now required to re-try submission of toll transactions over a 10-day period for Virginia E-ZPass customers when their accounts are insufficient;
- Sending alerts to Virginia E-ZPass account holders when their accounts become insufficient and encouraging them to add funds so tolls may be processed without a violation;
- Doubling the amount of time before administrative fees can increase beyond $25 from 30 to 60 days; and,
- Requiring Virginia toll facilities to use a collection process prior before issuing a summons for court appearances, in order to reduce the instances of civil penalties for commuters.
“The 2016 legislation was designed to put public trust in the Commonwealth’s tolling process after it was shattered as a result of this contract,” said Delegate Chris Jones. “We built in these consumer protections to reform the toll violation and collection process, and I fully support Governor McAuliffe’s proposed budget amendment and efforts to make our intentions crystal clear.”
“We are taking steps to close a loophole the Macquarie-Skanska partnership has used to its advantage,” said Virginia Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne. “We want to give individuals a reasonable chance to clear their toll debt and get off to a fresh start. It’s simply the right thing to do. We hope the General Assembly will support this budget amendment at its veto session next month.”