NORFOLK -- Sailors and civilians in the Hampton Roads area will notice new tolls starting Feb. 1, 2014, that will have an effect on how they travel throughout the area in both government owned vehicles (GOV) and their personally owned vehicles (POV).
New tolls will begin at both the Midtown and Downtown Tunnels, which connect Portsmouth and Norfolk. The tolls for these tunnels will be collected using the EZ-Pass system, without traditional toll booths, and both GOV and POV travelers will be subject to them. This system is similar to the current tolling on the Jordan Bridge, which connects Chesapeake to Portsmouth.
“GOVs are not exempt from paying these tolls and individual commands are responsible for providing EZ passes for their leased vehicles,” says Mike Lienemann, NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic Base Support Vehicles and Equipment (BSVE) Product Line Coordinator.
Lienemann adds that BSVE, where vehicles are rented, can provide commands with information on where to go to set up EZ passes. The Virginia Department of Transportation’s VDOT website is www.ezpassva.com/.
He adds that not all GOVs will need an easy pass.
“If you don’t have a need to drive on a toll road, you wouldn’t need an EZ Pass,” he added. “Even if you do drive on toll roads, you don’t necessarily need a pass for every vehicle you lease, because they can be shared between vehicles.”
Vehicles without an EZ Pass will also be tolled, using a photo the EZ Pass system takes of the vehicle’s license as it passes through. Tolls for vehicles without an EZ Pass will be significantly higher than for those with the transponder.
“This works the same for GOVs,” says Lienemann. “We will be sent a bill and the higher toll, plus administrative fees for our processing of the bill will be passed on to the command who leases the vehicle.”
He adds that commands will need careful controls on their EZ Passes, be able to account for who is using the system, how much money is being spent and certify that the funds were used for official government business.
“You need to be able to pass an audit,” he adds.
Individuals who drive on toll roads as part of their daily commute, or who choose to use their own vehicle during the course of everyday business will be personally responsible for the payment of tolls and acquiring an EZ Pass for their POVs.
“The only time the government would pay for tolls in your POV is when you are under travel orders,” Lienemann explained.