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Pocahontas Parkway increasing tolls

Pocahontas Parkway increasing tolls

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Tolls on the privately operated Pocahontas Parkway are increasing to $4 at the main plaza and to $2.25 at the Laburnum/New Market and Airport Drive ramps, a spokeswoman said Friday.

The new tolls take effect Jan. 4.

Tolls were last increased in January 2013 to a top price of $3.25 and $1.50, parkway spokeswoman Mary Ellin Arch said.

“The revenue will fund operations, maintenance, and finance debt payments,” Arch said.

The increase is the maximum permitted under a rate schedule established in a 2006 agreement between the parkway’s prior operator and the Virginia Department of Transportation, which owns the highway, Arch said.

The agreement allows the rate to rise annually after 2016 based on inflation, “but that doesn’t mean it will,” she said.

Private operators were charged with paying VDOT $611 million over time when they took over the parkway; Arch was not able to say how much debt remained.

“The parkway has been transferred to new (concession) owners and the debt has been recapitalized,” she said.

DBi Services, based in northeastern Pennsylvania, took over operating the parkway in 2014 after the Australian company Transurban walked away from a 99-year concession on the highway, which ends in 2105.

A Transurban official said at the time that the company’s investment in the project had not been successful.

Arch could not say how many vehicles traverse the parkway daily. She did say operators expect to see a dip in traffic following the rate increase.

“Typically after a toll increase, traffic on a road will drop, but it always comes back up,” she said.

The increase in January will help cover the cost of a road resurfacing scheduled for 2016-17. Arch could not say how much the work will cost; the parkway does not receive state or federal support.

“It’s our job to be good stewards of the road,” she said.

The 8.8-mile highway was the first road in Virginia built by public-private partnership. The highway opened in 2002.

Multi-axle vehicles will pay $1 more per axle over the $4 toll at the main plaza, with the maximum toll being $8 for six axles or more. The $2.25 toll is the same for all vehicles.

The prior operator charged varying rates for weekends, peak and non-peak traffic hours, but those rates were done away with after the 2014 transfer, Arch said.

The highway, sometimes called Pocahontas 895, runs southeast of the city of Richmond. It crosses the James River to link Interstate 95 at Chippenham Parkway in Chesterfield County with Interstate 295 in eastern Henrico County.


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