Panel Endorses Tolls on U.S. 35 in W.Va.

Fri October 08, 2010 - Northeast Edition

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) An advisory panel has endorsed the state’s plan to put toll plazas on a segment of U.S. 35 to provide funding to complete the highway’s upgrade to four-lane status.

The Route 35 Local Advisory Committee voted unanimously Sept. 9 to endorse tolls of $2 for passenger vehicles and $8 for commercial trucks, the Charleston Gazette reported. The proposal was presented by the state Parkways Authority and the Division of Highways.

The proposal calls for constructing toll plazas at the north and south ends of the 31.88-mi. section through Putnam and Mason counties. Money from the tolls would be used to upgrade the final 14.6-mi. stretch to the Ohio River.

The road is a major highway connecting Interstate 64 to Ohio, and tolls are seen as the only way to complete the upgrade.

State highway engineer Marvin Murphy said West Virginia only received about $200 million of stimulus funds for road construction statewide. Completing the U.S. 35 project is expected to cost $190 million. More than $450 million has been spent so far to upgrade the road.

The state has applied for supplemental funding from the stimulus TIGER grant program, but Murphy said that program is only awarding a total of $600 million for all projects nationally. He said even if the state received a grant, it wouldn’t be enough to complete the upgrade.

“I think people are resigned to the fact that we need this road, and the only way we’re ever going to get it is as a toll road,” said committee member Charles Lanham.