PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WVEC) -- Governor Terry McAuliffe announced a new plan aimed at easing the burden of tolls on low-income residents who take the Downtown and Midtown tunnels between Portsmouth and Norfolk.

The announcement is part of McAuliffe's plan to reduce financial impact of major construction improvements on drivers in Hampton Roads.

The relief program is only for low-income residents of Portsmouth and Norfolk, and drivers must have a working Virginia EZ-Pass transponder.

Virginia Deputy Secretary of Transportation Grindly Johnson says the application process will run from December 1st to February 15th, and the toll relief will start March 1st.

Residents must have an income level no higher than $30,000 in order to take advantage of the program. For drivers who are accepted into the program, their tolls will decrease to $.75 per trip, following their eighth time through the tunnels per month.

The Virginia Department of Transportation says Elizabeth River Crossings has agreed to pay $500,000 a year for 10 years to help offset the cost of tolls on those users most financially stressed.

Governor McAuliffe says this plan is the first of its kind in the nation.

More information can be found on VDOT's website.