PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WVEC) -- Elizabeth River Crossings started sending refund checks to customers Wednesday.

CEO, Philip Shucet, said 61 checks went out Wednesday to drivers who paid $2,200 on tolls and fees.

The refunds are running well-ahead of schedule, beating the deadline approaching at the end of May.

"Over the next 8 days, an additional 781 refunds will go out to individuals who are regular customers or not included in the toll relief program," said Shucet.

He said getting the refunds out is the priority right now but, starting Thursday, phase 2 starts.

"That is to offer settlements to individuals who owe outstanding balances that are not yet settled," said Shucet.

That requires trying to reach settlements with about 34,000 accounts.

As all of this moves forward, Shucet said they'll also focus on what has gotten everyone to this point---the fee structure. He doesn't want ERC to make its money on fees, something that has hurt many people and gotten everyone to this point.

"To have some sort of fee structure in place is appropriate. What that fee structure is, is something we're going to be spending some time on," Shucet told 13News Now.

ERC is also revamping its customer service and equipping it to be able to not just deal with accounts, but help customers settle.

"This has been an intense effort that we took seriously," said Shucet.

Fees can add up quickly, he added.

For 'Pay by Plate' customers, drivers who do not have an E-ZPass, it costs about $3.30 to drive through. Then, $5 for the first unpaid notice.

If you get a second notice, that's an additional $10. That brings the total for one transaction to $18.50.

Recently, invoices were discontinue, but Shucet said the company will continue sending them out. If you've accumulated tolls on or after April 1 and do not have an E-ZPass, an invoice will be mailed out.

If you have unsettled accounts, you can contact ERC at (757) 837-0651.