The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest News

February 22, 2014

Delegates voice concerns about bill to electronically enforce toll roads

Opponents evoke ‘Big Brother’ effect; proponents say it’s efficient

CHARLESTON — Members of the House of Delegates who sit on the Judiciary Committee were concerned Friday morning with the “Big Brother” effect of a bill that could allow electronic toll collections and the lack of a plan for use of the bill’s provisions in the next six years.

Proponents of the legislation say it’s necessary because it provides for efficiency if any toll roads are contemplated in the future and because it allows for reciprocity with neighboring states, such as Pennsylvania, that have toll roads.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s chief of staff, Jason Pizatella, said privacy concerns have been “refined in the last five years to be the strictest ... in the United States.”

He said electronic enforcement of toll collection is used in 32 states.

If federal aid to roads is cut in September with the expiration of MAP-21, Pizatella said “more and more states will be enacting this type of legislation and more and more states  contemplating the use of toll roads.”

Pizatella said the governor’s Blue Ribbon Highway Commission recommended the bill. He said the bill does not affect employment of toll collectors on the West Virginia Turnpike, nor does it affect the statutory removal of the tolls in 2019.

Delegate Marty Gearheart, R-Mercer, spoke against the bill during the public hearing portion of the meeting.

Gearheart said because the turnpike is the only toll road in the state, the legislation would have to apply to it.   

“We are contemplating a bill that has no application,” Gearheart said.

The delegate noted that the electronic collection process would cause vehicle owners to be charged for travel on toll roads, even if someone else, including a car thief, was driving.

Paul Mattox, the secretary of the Division of Highways said, four companies manufacture electronic payment methods such as EZ-PASS used in West Virginia. While the products are not now compatible, they are mandated to be inter-operable by 2017.

In response to questions about making toll booths electronic pass only, as opposed to cash collection, Mattox said toll booths could be designed in any configuration.

Those who don’t pay the toll could have their vehicle registration renewal denied, in addition to other civil fines and penalties.

Several speakers from Mason County said they opposed the legislation because of the potential of a toll being placed on U.S. 35.

“Toll roads are a thorn in the side of economic growth,” said Delegate Scott Cadle, R-Mason. Cadle said he was elected on the basis of his opposition to tolls.

Both Pizatella and Mattox said there is no current plan to place tolls on any existing road in the state.

— E-mail: ppritt@register-herald.com

1
Text Only
Latest News
  • Rahall raises $324k in WVa’s 3rd; Jenkins, $194k

    Democrat U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall raised almost $324,000 last quarter for his contested re-election bid, while GOP challenger Evan Jenkins banked about $193,500.

    April 16, 2014

  • State regional jails ban touching during visits

    Concerns about drug contraband have prompted a ban on regional jail inmates touching loved ones during supervised contact visits.

    April 16, 2014

  • Renew W.Va. car registration online

    State residents strapped for time got a break Tuesday when Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Acting Division of Motor Vehicles Director Steve Dale announced new DMV online options for renewing vehicle registration.

    April 16, 2014

  • Manchin says mines should speak out about coal

    The Democratic senator leading the battle against the White House’s strategy to fight climate change urged the mining industry on Tuesday to speak out about coal’s role in providing affordable, reliable electricity to the country to help combat strict new emissions rules for coal-fired power plants.

    April 16, 2014

  • Rainelle Town Council pulls plans to annex roads

    Residents of several communities in Greenbrier County can rest assured they won’t be affected by a proposed road annexation after Rainelle Town Council decided not to move forward with the plan.

    April 16, 2014

  • City and county code enforcement offices separate

    After 10 years of partnership, the City of Beckley and the Raleigh County Code Enforcement offices have decided to part ways.
    Mayor Bill O’Brien said after several meetings with county commissioners, the groups decided to separate.

    April 16, 2014

  • snowywalk April is the cruelest month

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • eggy All mine!

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Manchin urges mines to speak out about coal

    The Democratic senator leading the battle against the White House’s strategy to fight climate change urged the mining industry on Tuesday to speak out about coal’s role in providing affordable, reliable electricity to the country to help combat strict new emissions rules for coal-fired power plants.

    April 15, 2014

  • State jobless rate inches up in March

    West Virginia’s unemployment rate inched up in March to 6.1 percent.

    April 15, 2014