State, private partner close on Midtown Tunnel project

Work can begin on the controversial $2.1 billion construction project that will toll the Midtown and Downtown tunnels, the state's private partner said Friday.

The announcement came after the state and its partner secured all the financing they need to pay for the project. The U.S. Department of Transportation approved a $422 million federal loan this week, and $675 million in bonds were issued.

Closing the financial terms means Elizabeth River Crossings can hire contractors and begin work on the E-ZPass tolling system for the tunnels, though the public won't see site work for weeks, said Mary Humphreys, public affairs manager for the private consortium.

Opponents who are planning a lawsuit to stop the project and its $1.84 rush-hour tolls said they are undeterred. Their suit has not been filed yet, but it is expected to challenge the constitutionality of the 1995 Public-Private Partnership Act and the Virginia Department of Transportation's authority to negotiate the Midtown deal.

"It doesn't change anything," said Patrick McSweeney, the lawyer working for the group, which includes some 200 potential plaintiffs. "The basis of the suit is either valid or not. It has nothing to do with whether (the state and its private partner) want to go forward with the risk they want to take."

The threat of a lawsuit was of little concern to the ratings agencies assessing the debt that Elizabeth River Crossings issued for the project. In an April 3 conference call with investors, a Standard & Poor's analyst said its rating assumed the project would have tolling authority, adding that the agency based its information on the legal opinions of the Virginia Attorney General's office and a law firm.

A bigger concern to investors was how many people will try to avoid the tolls when they start. Standard & Poor's predicted average annual daily traffic will initially fall by 44 percent before it begins to rise again, compared with the 28 percent drop-off predicted by Elizabeth River Crossings. However, the ratings agency noted that the developer has a $50 million line of credit to cover lower-than-anticipated toll revenues.

The analysts also counted as a strength the fact that the tunnels are heavily used by commuters and that few convenient alternatives exist.

"Other options really aren't viable, given the extra time constraints," an analyst said during Fitch Ratings' conference call.

The agencies rated the project's debt BBB-minus, on the low end of what is considered investment-grade debt. It was Standard & Poor's first public rating for a public-private partnership project in the United States, the agency said.

The state has withheld a copy of a 2008 toll-feasibility study conducted on the project, calling it a confidential and proprietary negotiation document that needs to remain exempt from public disclosure under the state's Freedom of Information Act. The Virginian-Pilot asked VDOT for a copy of the document Friday after the project's financial closing was announced, but one was not provided.

The project will double the Midtown Tunnel's capacity by adding a second tube, refurbish the Downtown Tunnel and extend the Martin Luther King Freeway in Portsmouth to Interstate 264. It is expected to create 500 jobs directly and three times that number indirectly, ERC's Humphreys said.

Also funding the project is a $362 million contribution from VDOT and $352 million in private equity from Elizabeth River Crossings. Tolling during construction is estimated to cover an additional $350 million.

No date has been set for the beginning of tolling, but the earliest that could happen is July, Humphreys said.

The tolls - beginning at $1.84 during peak travel times and $1.59 at off-peak hours - are scheduled to last for 58 years. They can be increased by at least 3.5 percent a year beginning in 2016, when the project is expected to be substantially complete.

Gov. Bob McDonnell, who has defended the project as a priority for the region and said it could not be built without tolls, did not issue a statement Friday on the closing of the deal's financial terms.

Posted to: News Portsmouth Traffic - Transportation Tunnels

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Build the third crossing and

Build the third crossing and you won't need a new midtown tunnel. And if we are going to send all of this money to a foreign company, can't we at least get a tunnel that is capable of handling our light rail system. No sense in building something that is obsolete as soon as it opens. This is a completely ill conceived plan in almost every aspect. Thanks Gov. Bob.

This IS A Loan!! who's paying it back and how?? EEK Norfolk

is also on the Hook for Light rail Loan.. Thanks NOT Gov. McD. your political carreer hopefully is over - - TOLLS indeed. Economically ill advised.. build bigger jails for us 'EZ Pass' criminals..

Out of office

Gov. Bob will be long out of office when the tunnels are complete. He doesn't really care how the money is paid back. It won't be his problem.

My question on this whole public/private scheme is this: If a for-profit entity can build a tunnel and make a profit from it, why can't a non-profit like the state do the same thing? Something is wrong if it costs the state one penny more than a private contractor for building the roads. Someone (VP ??) needs to investigate this.

Tools are taxes. The GA did not pass a tolls law.

The contract should be declared unconstitutional because it creates an unconstitutional toll-cum-tax.

Tolls are taxes. The General Assembly did not pass a tolls law.

The contract should be declared unconstitutional because it creates an unconstitutional toll-cum-tax.

Just How Much Do Those Tolls Cost

I had to do some figuring and this is what I came up with.
I drive from Portsmouth to Virginia Beach 5 times per week using 15 gallons of gas at $4/gal or $60/week NOW.
If the toll were $1.50 and I drove during the off hours, I would pay $3/day or $15/week. The $60 becomes $75 weekly. Converting this would equal $1/gal gas tax for me. For those affected like myself, it is alot
of money. For those not using the tunnel, they save alot of money by letting me and others pay the toll. Thanks again Bob for thinking of yourself first.

The day the music died

Bye bye Ms. American Pie.

I agree, rock died the day

I agree, rock died the day McClaine or whatever his name sang that fateful song, 1972 or so is my best guess.


Don Mclean

OMG! The world is going to end this year!

Some of the "horrific" results that have been listed by some of the folks that might have to pay $1.84/$1.59 each way to use the tunnels:

Can't get to the hospital anymore.
Can't get to my doctor's office anymore.
Can't get to work anymore.
I'm going to lose my job.
Can't shop where I want anymore.
Can't get to my favorite restaurants anymore.
Can't see my grandkids anymore.
Can't go to church anymore.
Can't volunteer anymore.
Can't buy my kids new shoes or clothes.
I'm going to have to sell my house.
And, Governor McDonnell's political career is over (like the national electorate would turn away from him because he resisted raising taxes in his state).

Just raise the gas tax and all of the above will go away.

Let's get a grip, fo

It is the same

Raising the gas tax or putting the tolls on the tunnel are the same. It has to be paid somehow and it will affect individuals and the economy. Being I have lived in areas that have extensive tolls --- they do not work. The roads are worse and the tolls keep increasing. Low gas tax keeps our state moving. Maybe we should take a holisitc look at the Transportation budget? Hey that is an idea! What about showing us where all the tax dollars and revenue goes. On average only about 60% of gas tax dollars actually go to transportation infrastruture. They rest goes to general funds to be used as the legislature pleases!

Well, that sounds great, but

Well, that sounds great, but it is absolutely false. The fuels tax goes into the transportation trust fund and all of it is used for transportation. Stop quoting from the republican play book; that is not a reference document. It is a fairytale.

must you

always revert to your conservative bashing? Good Grief, your party and it's leaders have offered NO solutions only criticisms and more spending and taxes.

Instead of raising the gas

Instead of raising the gas tax a couple pennies Gov. McD decided to charge the working people of Portsmouth and Norfolk (and other cities) over $700 a year. And thats after taxes. So basically the Governor gave the citizens who work in PTown a bill of about $1000 a year per driver. Think that lack of leadership won't come out in any national election? If he'll shaft his own family, friends and neighbors like that, what will he do to the rest of the country?


was a referendum that soundly defeated a gas tax increase. How is that the Governor's fault? Blame yourself and the others not the Gov. The increase would be 15 cents per gallon to fund this tunnel. Just not sure if that's fair to the rest of the area. I'm not crazy about the deal either, so maybe just have no new tunnel?


It isn't 'Can't' it is 'Won't'. And I welcome anyone who wants to move to the free side of the tunnel. Remember it will cost money to get out of Norfolk.

Just take a digital picture

Just take a digital picture of the mayors license plate, print it out on glossy inkjet paper then affix it over your license plates. The OCR software will take care of the billing. Then drive through the tunnel to the hospital.

Gov McDonnel No tax downtown & Midtown tunnels

I PROPOSE that the downtown and midtown Norfolk - Portsmouth TUNNELS be RENAMED to "GOV BOB McDONNELL NO TAX DOWNTOWN TUNNEL and GOV BOB McDONNELL NO TAX MIDTOWN TUNNEL". This historic achievement of leasing our tunnels to a private enterprise for the next 58 years resulting from the full support of Gov McDonnell and the Republican dominated legislature should not be over looked. This achievement of adding one more tunnel tube will surely look good in their quest to return to office - or even to seek higher office. After all this will be accomplished without any increase in TAXES WHATSOEVER and for the NEXT 58 YEARS we can thank those in Virginia Commonwealth office in the year 2011 & 2012.

Gov Bob McDonnell Done Deal tunnels


OMG! The world is going to end this year!

Let's get a grip, folks.


yer funny. nope it ended last year, remember?

Those voters who continue to

Those voters who continue to elect delegates who have signed the no tax pledge are the cause of this disaster. Those delegates, unable and unwilling to raise the gas tax, has empowered the Speaker of the House, Bill Howell, to tie the hands of every Governor who has attempted to reverse the decline of our transportation infrastructure. This includes the voters of Portsmouth who continue to return Johnny Joannou back into office; he and his cohorts are the reason this punishing toll had been levied for this project. Of course, since every new project will need to be funded in exactly the same way, you are just the guinea pig, but citizens of Hampton Roads, you're next. Don't want increased gas taxes; this is what you will get.

Business tax

Let's increase it! We'll keep the low homeowners (lowest in the region according to MB) and get some pavement money. Heck we can use it to buy a hotel and light rail.

Too bad I can't give this post

A hundred thumbs up. We've met the enemy and it's us.

Tunnel Vision

I think we should look closer at the role Phil Shucet has played in this tunnel saga. Prior to becoming President of HRT, (and earning more tax money than President Obama) Phil was a principal consultant for Elizabeth River Crossing. Mayor Fraim then brought Shucet in to fix the mess Mike Townes and company (including light rail consultants...some of whom are now employed by HRT as department chiefs) created. Now that Phil Shucet is back in the private sector, one can only wonder if he is playing a role behind the scenes to add more tolls throughout the region? Is an I-264 toll to subsidize light rail in our future?

VP-I hope it doesn't take 12 hours to post this comment like it did my last one.

What VDOT and the PRIVATE foreign owned company

just said is "DAMN THE STATE! WE are in control and we are going to toll the citizens!" By the way VAPilot, your headline is incorrect. "The STATE" is the CITIZENS, not the elected and appointed offcials that have taken some kind of kick back and are ramming this project down the taxpayers/citizens throat. As stated before, this project will do absolutely NOTHING to reduce the traffic bottlenecks and congestion. All it does is connect two (MidTown/DownTown) already congested tunnels and puts another lane each way on the already over burdened Hampton Blvd. It's time for some heads to roll. Maybe it's time for the citizens to stand up and overthrow the state government for not listening to the citizens.

Let's Revisit Tolls

When the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel was built back in the mid 50's, the toll was $1.25. A house and a new auto coast about the same, around $3,000.00. Families incomes were around $5,000.00. Gas cost pennies, and so on! Now the less than $2.00 toll is going to break everyone's bank. Sorry folks, it just doesn't add up!

The population was real low

The population was real low here, so the number of cars on the bridge tunnel was pretty low. Sort of how the CBBT is still $13 each way. That's a good chunk more than minimum wage. Plus gas prices are eating into budgets, and America has a pretty bleak future given the loss of lots of job opportunities and constant optimization to reduce costs.

What REALLY Doesn't add up

WHAT DOESN'T ADD UP is paying toll on a tunnel which is ALREADY paid for AND exporting the toll profit OUT of the country. WHAT DOESN'T ADD UP is paying tolls on a tunnel for ANOTHER tunnel I don't use. WHAT DOESN'T ADD UP is ERC increasing the tolls 3.5% EVERY year for 54 years. WHAT DOESN'T ADD UP is you will be paying tolls FOUR years BEFORE the one new Midtown tube opens. WHAT DOESN'T ADD UP is WITH the new tube you will pay toll AND STILL sit in traffic.


The United States government has NO MONEY! From which not-so-poor sucker country are they going to borrow THIS 422 million dollars? How stupid are people who act like federal funds are free? They really don't come from us (We, the People) anymore, either. Our federal taxes have not paid for anything for a long, long time. This commonwealth used to be "pay as you go". If we couldn't pay, we didn't "go". Public/private partnerships are nothing but a newer way to fleece people out of their hard-earned money for nothing but pie-in-the-sky (Renaissance Hotel). This "taking" of OUR TUNNELS is nothing but bribery-driven THEFT, and IS completely unlawful under Virginia's constitution. I hope and pray that the civil suit is victorious, but I won't hold my bre

Good call. Once they build

Good call. Once they build it, we should just kick them out of the country and tell them to get lost. Then cut the network connection to the EZPass sensors.


"We" can't do anything. I have donated money to the attorney fund for the civil suit, but I don't look for real justice at the hands of most judges these days. I honestly and truly believe that too many people have taken too much pre-paid "profit sharing" already, to have this one-sided contract for legal theft torn up and thrown away. There is actually a HUGE difference between "legal" & "lawful". All attorneys know this difference, but very few average citizens do. The contract may be quasi-legal, but it is not lawful in any way. I really would like to see "ALL" of us keep using the tunnels without EZ passes, and throw the bills in the trash. Not gonna happen. The State would just confiscate our license plates in retaliation.

The difference between

The difference between collecting a toll and raising the gas tax is that there is 25-30% waste in collecting the toll where as raising the gas tax will not cost the tax payers a penny.

On top of that they are allowed to raise the toll every year once the tunnel is complete and are projected to take $20 billion out of the Hampton Roads economy. There is no risk to the private company so we are just handing out $18+ billion dollars to the company.

light rail the next public privat toll deal

Next project on the table is the $1 Billion Light rail to va beach...the next public private deal.

I told you so

in an era when the 25 cent tunnel tolls were acceptible, the minimum wage was 1.10 an hour. it's all relative. big deal. work where you live, walk, bike, or ride transit (and save a ton on gas, tax, and insurance bills), or accept the penalty for being a moron and driving through toll booths repeatedly.


I live and work in Newport News. I have a 4 mile commute. I used to bike to work often until my office had to convert our bathroom to handicap and take away the shower. I spend about $7 - $10 per week on gas... even at $3.89 per gallon. These tolls will not affect me other than during ODU basketball season and I will just take the HRBT against traffic as opposed to the normal MMBT/Midtown I currently take. I am conservative to the point that I am voting for Virgil Goode and the Constitution Party for president because I think Romney is a socialist. That said, I am absolutely horrified by these tolls and our governor stinks.

You were doing great until...

You said Romney is a Socialist...that's rich!


It's not all that impossible. In Orwell's "Animal Farm", "All the animals were equal, but, some animals were more equal than others". Obama has kept the Bush programs going, and will continue to do so unless replaced by Romney, who will also see to it that "the beat goes on". There are no trustworthy candidates in this upcoming presidential election. We are no longer the "land of the free", but thanks to Wal-Mart & China, we are the "land of the merely cheap".


And if you do waste your vote you will be helping to re-elect the worst President of all time.


I'd rather be stuck with a socialist that hates to work for 4 years than a socialist that loves to work for 8 years.


bush can't run again...

Boycott it, plain and

Boycott it, plain and simple. A modern day tea party unfolding, too much non-representational goverment.

Watch ya' gonna do when the

Watch ya' gonna do when the well run dry? Just sit and cry and cry.

" ... raising the gas tax will not cost the tax payers a penny."

How does that work?

A bold statement, but here's my take:

We've seen the reports that other states with much higher gas taxes (including NC) have basically the same gas prices, which means that Virginia gas stations have higher profit margins than in other states. So the hope is that state-to-state competition will ensure that the gas tax will be paid out of gas stations' margins rather than our wallets. Bit of a gamble, but not impossible.

Personally, I'd like to see an investigation of why selling gas is so much more profitable in Virginia than surrounding states. Can that sort of disparity really exist without a price-fixing scheme?

Which politicians are in the

Which politicians are in the deal to make money on this? Has anyone figured it out?

Um, would that be Bob? His

Um, would that be Bob? His political career is over btw. Blame that on a one term governorship in VA that's open to all carpetbaggers.

the same ones on the va beach light rail deal

It is a small area...we have the same players on most of these deals. Light Rail in Virginia Beach will make some folks very rich.


Well,since everything is a "done deal", why can't a bridge be built instead of another tunnel? Seems to me a bridge would be cheaper then another tunnel. But, then again, maybe I don't have all of the information like those who stand to make a bundle off of this tunnel deal.
Seems to me, the voters should have voted as to have another tunnel or go back to the drawing board until another plan was found that was cheaper, and easier on the working man. Was this a "backroom" deal, or did I miss the chance to vote against it if it was on the ballot? I sure am glad this is an election year,its about time we vote these set of bums out, and put new ones in. Gotta be better then what we have now.

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge
Clearance 220ft from tide (Aircraft Carriers are about 200ft above waterline)
1933 projected cost $35,000,000 Million!
1937 completed 1.3 million under budget - end cost $33,700,000
$1 (In 1933) = $17.51 (in 2012) CPI (Consumer Price Index) Inflation Calculator
Cost of Golden Gate Bridge in TODAYS dollars $590,087,000 using above numbers. However the bridge web sites states cost would be $1.2 Billion in 2003 dollars
($1.5 Billion, OR .9 Billion LESS than the Midtown - Downtown - MLK project. People back in the day KNEW how to negotiate.)

OSHA changed the game......

Factor in the cost of being "safe" and your prices increase significantly. Doing business today and keeping withing the guidelines of safety is extremely costly. Its actually much more than is necessary for what little it prevents in terms of injuries. OSHA is the modern day mafia designed to line the pockets of the government and others.......


There is no more government that is for the people, and by the people. We are in the same state that our founders were when this country was started. Taxation without representation. Every level of Government wastes our money and increases their budgets every single year, yet nothing actually goes to we the people. We are taxed, yet we pay for every service individually as well. We pay for trash collection, water, sewer, and even storm drainage. When they say budget cuts, it's really a less of an increase in the budget. This toll for 55 years to pay for a tunnel that should be already paid for with our over 50 percent tax rate in income, fees...etc, is insane. Our government thinks we are stupid, and banks on it.


There is a solution. The lawsuit will eliminate the contract. Go to notollshr.org and contribute to the legal effort. Every bit helps. This is a people movement.If not enough people contribute, the lawsuit can't go through. It is your choice. Contribute now or pay $1000 or more /year for the next 54 years. Contribute to notollshr.org

How Crazy is this?

People won't pay taxes for needed infrastructure. People won't pay tolls for needed infrastructure. But they'll pay lawyers to fight it. Unbelievable.


I strongly disagree with your premise that "people won't pay taxes". We have already PAID for these existing tunnels, and we already PAY enough federal, state & city taxes to maintain them, the police & firefighters, the schools, and the trash pickup. The feds, and now the state & cities, are "broke" due to waste, misappropriated spending, bribery, theft, and generally acting like monarchs, instead of public trustees. Ergo, our complete lack of trust in anything they say these days. Mind over matter. They don't mind & we don't matter.


I had paid for a 1985 Pontiac...

A long time ago. But it wore out, and I've needed to replace it and it successors several times over the years. Tunnels and roads have a life cycle too, and need to be upgraded and replaced just like my old car did. And I'm sure you've replaced things too.

And enough with the bad government paranoia. Are there some examples of government not being perfect? Sure there are, like anything. But those are the rare exceptions, and don't represent the overwhelming majority of things that are done right and in good conscience by people just like you and me. I still believe that despite some hiccups we still have the best governance in the best country on the planet. I may not agree with everything, but I trust my government.


Say you still used that '85 Pontiac, but now your family needed another car. But, to pay for that car, you are going to have to pay for the Pontiac again, financed for the next 6 decades at 13.5%. Would you buy another car under these terms? That is what this toll plan is asking.

Doing some math...

In a related story, they want to put Light Rail on the ballot this fall. At a cost of 1 billion dollars minimum.
The population in Virginia Beach is roughly 470,000. The cost of Light Rail would be over $2,200.00 per every single citizen. At $4.00 per gallon, that is 572 gallons of gas. The average car that would be 30 tanks, or 1.5 years of gasoline. Of course these aren't real numbers, because not every citizen would pay for the project. Why won't the government help the taxpayer? Who is really going to ride that train? It won't be the one's too busy to go to work to pay for it.

Holland Tunnel Toll Costs

I posted earlier and thought I would remind readers how similar tolls have increased. 54 years is a long time for a public/private partnership and and I can only imagine how much tolls will be in the next 10 years.

Here are the historical tolls from the Holland Tunnel in New York City.

1975 -1980 $1.50
1980 -1987 $2
1987 – 1991 $3
1991 – 2001 $4
2001 – 2008 $6
2008 – 2011 $8
2011 – NOW $12

Two buck looks like the starting point of the Holland Tunnel. Look what has happened now!!!!!

Yeah, but most of that

Yeah, but most of that $12.00 toll pays for union toll collectors. Same scenario in NJ.

Lock step, lemming like Republicans, pledged to

Grover Norquist, took an oath to NEVER to raise taxes....and for that our roads, bridges and tunnels will be in the hands of foriegners who will get an annual 13.5 % guaranteed profit on their investment and automatic toll increases of up to 3.5% a year for the next SIX DECADES.

This is outrageous, a simple raise in the gas tax would have been more beneficial to Tidewater and to the entire State, instead we will be sending our hard earned money to European profiteers.

We should all remember who these lemmings are when we go to the polls, this year and next year. These people obviously have more regard for the pledge to Norquist, than to the pledge they swore to their constituants.

nobody knows who grover norquist is...

I love to see these posts because no one has any idea what they are talking about...I had to look it up my self....

That explains a lot.

Like a self inflicted wound to get out of combat.


I guess you should keep away from sharp objects....

there will be a vote on the next project..light rail to Va Beach

A vwey similar deal is coming to Virginia Beach. The light rail project to be built by forengn companies for a Billion $$ will only help the 1%.

tolls for Hampton Roads


light rail toll for virginia beach...

There will be a $1 Billion public private venture up for a vote this fall. Another foreign company will have the purse strings of Virginia Beach.


We heard you the 1st time. Why don't you post it 3 or 4 more times for those who may have missed it the 1st 2 times.


There will be a $1 Billion public private venture up for a vote this fall. Another foreign company will have the purse strings of Virginia Beach.

"low end of what is considered investment-grade debt"

Low as you can go without being junk bonds.


The Federal Government is laughing that they could loan this money to Virginia instead of paying for this tunnel along with the Port Of Virginia who are the only two entities that actually need a tunnel as we the commuters could just go across a bridge.

Gov Bob your days are numbered and when you try for higher office the people of Virginia will remember and then we will let the rest of the country know to ensure your sound defeat.

Hold Your Nose and Vote for McDonnel

Governor Bob thinks he is going to be Vice President. Be careful what you say because at all costs we have to hold our noses and vote for Romney, and McDonnel might be on that same ticket.

over the

bridge deal? Why in the world would the rest of the country or the rest of Virginia give a hoot about that. Get real. You have another agenda. At least be up front.

Gov McDonnell

The State is witholding the 2008 toll-feasibility study conducted on the project, calling it a confidential and proprietary negotiation document that needs to remain exempt from public disclosure under the state's Freedom of Information Act, says it all. This tunnel deal was signed, sealed and done with all local City goverments agreeing in 2008. 2 years before Gov McDonnell took office. He supporting VDOT and the decision of the previous Governor out of professional courtesy.

McDonnell Admin 2 years in the making

JUST SOME details "WORKED OUT" by the McDONNELL ADMIN which were NOT in the Interim Agreement agreed to by Kaine admin. The McDONNELL ADMIN took ALMOST 2 YEARS CHANGING the agreement BEFORE signing the "Comprehensive Agreement on Dec 5 , 2011.
58 YEAR AGREEMENT allows for ERC to COLLECT ADDL TOLLS OR FUNDING if ERC believes and can document a alternative tunnel, etc will have a net cost impact or net revenue impact.
ERC can INCREASE tolls on a YEARLY basis beginning when the new MT Tunnel reaches "substantial" completion (sched 2016). The tolls WILL escalate by a factor = to the GREATER of changes to Consumer Price Index OR 3.5%.
NO CASH ACCEPTED. ALL payments will be by either a E-ZPass or be BILLED BY MAIL at: TOLL + 2 X TOLL.


Tolls are the logical outgrowth of a failure of politicians to raise the gas tax slightly to increase spending to support the states infrastructure. The republicans intransigence regarding taxes has led to this outcome. Get ready for tolls on I95-I81-I64. You will pay twice, once when you pay the toll and again in increased cost of moving freight which is passed on to the consumer at point of sale. A small increase in the gas tax would have avoided this. Further, why are foreign corporations allowed to purchase government owned assets?


The analysts also counted as a strength the fact that the tunnels are heavily used by commuters and that few convenient alternatives exist.

"Other options really aren't viable, given the extra time constraints," an analyst said during Fitch Ratings' conference call.

You all know what THAT means;......"we've got you by the b.... and were not letting go".

Ah well, the folks up north in the Tri-State have been living with tolls for years. Hasn't helped with the traffic any but it keeps the roads paved somewhat.

Just another example of where we are going in the USA, cost of living keeps going up, wages stay the same.

One article stated that we are now working the first 100 days of the year just to pay taxes.

That's sad.

light rail in va beach is the next step in this process

Light rail in virginia beach will bring the same deal as the tunnel in Portsmouth...the 1% are leading the 99%.

New Jordan Bridge opens in July

The new Jordan BRIDGE opens in July. Looking forward to it.


That's what we should be doing...unless Uncle Sam wants to pay the difference for another hole through the water.

For what we will pay for tunnels and tolls, we could probably move NNSY to Craney Island. It could definitely use a refurbishment. Much of the high-cost equipment could be moved. And Portsmouth could get some taxpaying real estate on their two miles of deep draft waterfront.

But no, let's keep doing what we've been doing...dump two more lanes of Midtown Tunnel traffic into Ghent. There's some forward thinking. Where do we find these idiots, law school?

I used to be a frequent user

I used to be a frequent user of the old Jordan Bridge. Unfortunately the new bridge carries a new toll, which is projected to be higher than that of the tunnel. It's an alternative for many, but not as a money saving option.

When I don't bike it for

When I don't bike it for free, I'd gladly pay an extra 16 cents per trip on the new Jordan Bridge just to know I'm not supporting Virginia's scam to divert more of our taxes to special corporate interests and Northern Virginia transportation projects.

Avoiding the same tunnel congestion we see every day will just be a bonus.

But also I won't be the only one asking if I like my job and my city enough to accept a substantial effective pay cut.

Also, for myself and many

Also, for myself and many the Jordan Bridge is a more direct and likely less congested route, so the slightly higher toll will be paid back in reduced gas costs.

Yep pretty mindless design.

Dumping more traffic onto a crowded Hampton Blvd makes no sense at all. If anything the congestion will get worse on Hampton Blvd if the don't plan on widening the part that runs through Ghent.

The plan would almost make

The plan would almost make sense if they build an interstate highway through West Ghent and Larchmont that connects to 564. But of course that will never happen because the Mayor and many of his campaign donors live there.

Another hmmm,

The price of gas has gone up almost a dollar in less than a year and I don't hear too much screaming about that. Imagine if just 25 cents of that increase had gone to the state for roads.

Also, stop sounding like tolls are some horrible new concept. They have been a way of life for a long time. Now that doesn't mean that they work, just that they are not new.

Tolls on an existing

Tolls on an existing interstate highway to fund expansion of a separate state highway years before the expansion is completed actually IS a new and unique concept. As is the state giving away it's infrastructure to be privately tolled for profit for several decades.

TouchÉ, Billc12375!

"People won't pay taxes for needed infrastructure. People won't pay tolls for needed infrastructure. But they'll pay lawyers to fight it. Unbelievable."

That's why I've been asking folks to take a breath, "get a grip."

I mean ... there are people threatening civil disobediance, moving to another state, and all other sorts of over the top reactions. All this wild-eyed hysteria over a darn toll that costs less than their daily latte.

You're right ... "How crazy is this?"

Highway Robbery

I'd rather pay a lawyer $150,000 once than pay $22 billion for a project that is already obsolete. At least the lawyer has to pay taxes on his take because, unlike ERC, he won't be financed by tax-exempt bonds in a sweetheart deal guaranteeing annual increases and profits.

This isn't just about tolls, it's about taxes disguised as tolls--in case you haven't noticed, the tolls start years before the tunnel will be built. That's a tax, not a toll. It's about secret feasibility studies disguised as "proprietary information" and denied to the public for oversight. It's about dog and pony shows disguised as public hearings, where the public is neither informed nor heard.

So, yes, we'll pay a lawyer a little now to avoid highway robbery later.

"Public Meetings"

VDOT, Gov McDonnells Administration all mention the "Public Meetings" BUT the input of the meetings from the public was mostly concerned about high tolls and the need for light rail. WE SEE how that went. EXAMPLE http://www.midtowntunnel.org/procurement_status_phase_two.asp meetings 2 and 3 which did NOT ALLOW QUESTIONS - ONLY STATEMENTS. VDOT meetings were only DESIGN information NOT cost etc. Check out the upcoming VOT meetings and you will see - this time they may allow questions BUT they wont have answers.(Ask about funding, schedule & toll on MMMBT)


Wed., April 18, 4-7 p.m., Hampton Roads Convention Center in Hampton

Thurs., April 19, 4-7 p.m., Granby High School in Norfolk

because they've been sold

You do realize that we will be paying for redundant jobs that don't need dong for 59 years. at 75% more than cost, for just one VA project. Rather than paying a 150 tax for 20 years, which would pay for all VA’s projects? You do realize that rural VA receives 24 cents of every your tax dollars. Do you realize that a yester-year tax rate ignores inflation et al. Do you realize this has been orchestrated. Marketed like a can of doo-la-lies. And brother you've bought it.

Toll authority?

Is there going to be a toll authority to collect these tolls or does the money go straight to the company?

it is going to the city of portsmouth

The city of Portsmouth will reap the benifits of this toll deal.

Yeah, that's the ticket

Yeah, that's the ticket

No, the city won't

None of the cities in the region benefit by the tolls--they will be collected by E-ZPass and sent on to ERC, which will share with the state after it collects its guaranteed return on investment. The state isn't guaranteed any return until ERC gets its cut, and the cities get zip, nada, nothing.

Don't you just love an "informed" citizenry? Wouldn't you love to be part of one?

another of the "informed citizenry"

this is why we get what we get.....people who don't have a clue and who don't want to know so they can claim righteous indignation when things don't go the way they "thought" they would....

Thats what happena when sheeple think!!

Sweet deal for McSweeney.

Some are alleging that someone in the administration is somehow financially benefiting personally from this deal.

Patrick McSweeney is going to do quite well, too, with all those billing hours he's going to charge those that are upset over the $1.59/$1.84 tolls.

He did quite well in 2008 fighting the local taxing authority effort, which, had it not been struck down, would have precluded this whole situation.

all this

caterwauling should have been done by the City Councils when they became aware of this project over 2 years ago. I don't understand the last minute look into the details, they had multiple meetings and were fully aware of the details. Portsmouth and Norfolk city councils knew about everything for a long time. Norfolk is for the tolls, Portsmouth council now is vehemently opposed. Why the late theatrics? Is is merely for re-election? It would interesting to see if they raised any fuss prior to the heavy press coverage.

The size of Virginia State

The size of Virginia State government is so much larger than most realize if you include all these "private" companies that exist solely to profit from the next government project. This is less about providing the region better roads as it is about sustaining private politically connected companies that cannot exist without government largess. If the tunnel project is as important as claimed start with cutting government waste and then come to us with a toll or tax increase. Until then stay out of our pockets!

Dumb and Dumber

Great... so now we will have 4 lanes of traffic that can wait at the stoplight on Redgate Ave as they exit the tunnel....But nothing in sight for a new HRBT tunnel... Does everyone in govt. have oatmeal for brains?


Only 2 lanes would stop at Redgate. But from my daily drive, once I exit the tunnel, there is no traffic issue, even if I do have to stop at Redgate now and then. Remember, not all of the traffic goes down Hampton, some goes down Brambleton as well.

No, but--

"Does everyone in govt. have oatmeal for brains?"
No. Oatmeal serves a variety of useful purposes. Try cellulose.

Let them eat cake

When asked at a recent gathering of the Hampton Roads Public Transportation Alliance about the problems on Hampton Blvd, Virginia's deputy secretary of transportation answered simply, "That's the City of Norfolk's problem."

In other words ...

... they are going to blow us off.

there's a man with a

Some people won't pay taxes. They would if they opened their eyes 360 degrees. Most understand a 150 tax is more effective than a 1300 toll. During the hub bub "officials said "hundreds of millions in gas taxes" leaving-out it was only 9.64 a year which won't make a dent". saying loudly a 2.50 toll. leaving out 1300 a year for just ONE of 22 needed projects. Leaving out, a 150 tax (10cents gas 48yr, 100 transportation tax= 150 a year, raising >1.2 Billion a year which pays for ALL projects on VA's books in 20 years. And the sheep were lulled to sleep never doing the math. thinking someone else is a user, not he... as planned because they could. Shame! How bout it officials, think we deserve better? think your economy won't suffer?


"The Virginian-Pilot © April 3, 2012
Gov. Bob McDonnell is considering delaying toll collections on the Midtown and Downtown tunnels, plus other undisclosed measures to soften the impact of a public-private deal that could otherwise collect tolls as early as July 1.
The administration has agreed to an amendment in a public-private partnership deal that makes postponing tolls possible.
"The amendment was negotiated with our private partner, Elizabeth River Crossings, because the governor wanted the ability to possibly delay the collection of tolls from the public," according to a statement from the governor's office. "This, as well as other initiatives, are currently under evaluation by the administration."
So much for truth in gov't!

"considering delaying toll collections"

So how much money did that save me?

Toll McDonnell had a plan to stifle Hampron Roads...and in this

Barack Obama could take lessons from the corrupt Governor of Virginia and his cronies in Richmond. Skansa has bought off our elected officials and administration big boys who stand to gain financially from this travesty called Tunnel gate. To get anywhere in Hampton Roads you have to pass through a tunnel or bridge. The citizens are forced to pay a foriegn entity ransom just to be able to get to work.
Some of our legislative representatives have been threatened to back off their ideas to fight this travesty and just get along. I personally think the States Attorney General should investigate this and put all of these arrogant and corrupt administrative and legislative people behind bars.
Of course this will never happen since all of the apples in t

Talk and bluster

As predicted, all the talk about getting relief from the tolls was nothing but talk and bluster. It's time we faced up to the truth: the people we elected to represent us have failed us, miserably. Hopefully the people will remember this over the next elections and kick them all out!

EZPass paranoia and anxiety. A red herring.

Some folks seem unjustifiably frightened to death over the prospect of having an EZPass.

Face it. Within the next few years, an EZPass will be as much an everyday item for all U.S. motorists as cell phones, smart phones, computers, internet access, cable tv, and all those other things we said we weren't going to purchase ... regardless of whether this tunnel project is completed or not.

Dig in your heels. Pitch a hissy fit. Refuse to buy one.

That'll show 'em!

And who will you be hurting?


I have had an Easy Pass for many years. I bought it for the convenience. It doesn't mean I like the "TAX" that I am paying any more that I like paying my income taxes with my charge card.

A toll on the tunnel is a tax imposed by edict not by the legislative process. Therefore it is unconstitutional as far as I can tell - and yes I'll compain and moan every time I go through an easy pass gate. And that's my right.

P.S. Please don't come back and say "that the toll is not a tax, that it's a user fee". User fees is New Speak for taxes.

Is that you Governor

Is that you posting here Governor McDonald?

A E-ZPass What's in a Name?

A E-ZPass - Just what I need, a VDOT NON-interest paying account with direct access to my bank account. For the few times I use the tunnel, what could be better than that? Of course without the pass, via photo license plate check, you can pay by mail the Toll + TWO Times the Toll. This will be especially popular with out-of towners, tourist, and car renters.

Isn't the Government good with names?

E-ZPass --Easyyyyy Pass - So Smoooth.
ERC - Elizabeth River Crossings (Name for a foreign interprise yet).
Patriot's Crossing - Just the name for a bridge tunnel.


Bob McDonnell has committed a mortal sin. Any true conservative worth his or her salt would never raise taxes (in this economic climate) if he or he wished to be elected for higher office. Remember "Read My Lips" Bush.

Far From True

You do not speak for all conservatives. I am a conservative, just one that refutes the wisdom of this whole ill-informed no taxes under any circumstances movement. A balanced approach to limiting spending as well as raising appropriate revenues is clearly what's needed to fix the issues we have now. Adopting such an intransigent position on taxes and revenue is counterproductive and actually contributes to the problems we're facing. I'm not a McDonnell fan, but his willingness to stand up in the face of intransigence has earned him a certain level of respect and support from me. And I'm not alone.

Gov. Bob McDonnell is a member of ALEC

Virginians need to learn about the American Legislative Exchange Council. Since 1973 Republicans, corporation executives and the NRA have been quietly meeting, to further each other's agenda. Haven't you wondered why all these crazy laws are being introduced by our legislature? Progress Va. and the Color of Change will help you understand where Gov. McDonnell stands. It's with making the rich richer! Character counts but you also have to ask ...who is Gov. McDonnell really working for?

hello there one term

hello there one term governor. take the gun out of your hand before you shoot yourself in the other foot. i heard rumours of you being on the ballot as v.p.. theres about a million and a half votes around here you wont be getting. do yourself a favor and stay north of richmond.

It amazes me all these

It amazes me all these negative comments about the tolls. Im not crazy about them either, but its going to get the tunnels built and upgrades done that need to be done. Its either that, or we sit in traffic wasting gas, which costs a lot now too.


With only the one new Midtown tunnel tube - instead of siting in traffic WITHOUT toll - you will be sitting in traffic WITH toll.


Ditto! And, here's a novel idea.... carpooling. The vast majority of those heading daily to Portsmouth are sole occupants. I observe this as I sit blocked from crossing Hampton Blvd to depart my neighborhood because so many of those heading daily to Portsmouth cut through our neighborhoods and back up traffic on side streets to make illegal turns and cut in front of others heading to Portsmouth. It is not fair to expect non-users to bear the expense of the new tube when the bulk of the tunnel users make no effort to improve the situation by carpooling to save money, fuel, time and other resources. Would you pay to park your car and carpool in a car/van/bus? If then a new tunnel was still needed, a tax increase would be fair.

hmmmmmm. its been 45 minutes

hmmmmmm. its been 45 minutes waiting for the first of 5 comments to be approved. and still waiting. maybe the pilot should be on the comedy channel because its a a JOKE. small town paper, small town mentality. but keep raising the price of your rag.


Mine used to post automatically and one time I posted something someone didn't like and now it takes all day for my comments to appear. Quite obnoxious.

same here............

If you are abrasive in your replies or are contrary to the Pilot's agenda....you get blacklisted to having all your posts "pending approval" nonsense. I inquired and was given about 20 examples of my "questionable" postings and was told they have a new format coming soon that would eliminate the need for screening/moderation......that was months ago. The Pilot needs a little help


I have a question for Virginia politicians, what part of "We the people" do you not understand?

Looking at the thumb downs

Governor McToll's staff must be clicking all the post critical of Governor McToll and his private enterprise shakedown of the citizens who live & work in Norfolk and Portsmouth. I will certainly go out of my way to avoid these tolls.

All the thumbs up and thumbs down

ws53790 you are right on -- I thought at first I might be a little paranoid - but never on all the previous articles these past months have I seen so many "Thumbs down" on post critical of Gov McDonnell and "thumbs up" for post for him. VDOT, ERC and the Governors staff must be drinking champagne and making overtime.

Gov Moving Forward with Plan to Destroy Largest Cities Economies

... would probably be a more fitting headline.


I just had a horrid thought. Of course, we're not paying taxes by paying tolls to a foreign-based company. We're paying tribute. Tribute was paid to a conquering nation in ancient times. What has happened? Say it ain't so.

$5.07 toll for cars without EZ Pass at rush hour

I just read the entire Fitch report and this deal looks absolutely insane.
Fitch rates this deal at BBB- ONE STEP ABOVE JUNK!
Fitch apparently assumes that the entire Eastern Seaboard will be tolled soon so everyone will have a common EZ-Pass device. If not, a whole lot of out of state tourists will never come back after receiving bills from ERC for $5.07 if they don't have the device. Not to mention locals who only rarely use the tunnels. And $5.07 is just the initial no-transponder fee. It will be over $20 by the end of this contract.
Even the Mafia takes care of its own so I doubt this deal is Cosa Nostra-related! But it certainly looks like a criminal confiscation of public facilities.
Who is on the take in Richmond????????
JG Tillery

Actually photo id (mailed) toll will be $5.52 CARS /$22.08 TRUCK

Actually the toll for cars without "E-ZPass during peak time (5:30-9 am / 2:30-7pm) will be Toll + (2 X TOLL). $1.84 + (2 x $1.84) = $5.52. For trucks a toll of $7.36 becomes $22.08.

This is the toll in the FIRST year. VDOT has given ERC the right to INCREASE tolls on a YEARLY basis beginning when the new Midtown Tunnel reaches "substantial" completion (scheduled for 2016). The tolls WILL escalate by a factor equal to the GREATER of changes to Consumer Price Index OR 3.5 percent.

Ref ( http://erc-info.com/?page_id=44 )


I have just read my Sunday school lesson. It seems that Charlemagne the Great requested that when he died (somewhere about 800 AD) that he be buried in his throne with his robes and crown and a Bible in his lap. About 200 years later the leadership decided to have Charlemagne's grave dug up to be sure that his requests were met with. They were. It was gruesome of course. His body had turned into a skeleton. His crown sat lopsided on his head and his robes were moth-eaten. But his finger bone pointed to the place in the Bible in which Jesus asked "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul?" I don't know if this is just a legend but it is powerful anyway.


I found an odd detail about this situation. You can pay your Cox Communications bill by credit card through something called Cox EasyPay. I would hope that people don't confuse EasyPay and EZ Pay. But it's more likely that the two companies are two parts of the same company.


Why is it that the midtown tunnel will cost 2 billion dollars when the first tube as i remember cost something like 54 million if you include inflations that comes out to about 400 million. The Swiss are building a 35 mile tunnel 2 tubes through solid rock under a mountain for 10.5 billion the new midtown tunnel is just 3500 ft long pre-constructed set in a trench. Also why is this tunnel not paid for with a bond issued and toll like the original tunnel project that was paid off in 25 years we are giving a tunnel that the users have paid for to a private company and it will take 56 years for the users to by back our property all is very strange sorry P-town but you will soon be abandoned by the rest of tidewater.

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