RICHMOND -- The Commonwealth Transportation Board agreed to spend $100 million to cover the cost of delaying tolls at the Midtown and Downtown tunnels.
At Wednesday's board meeting, members talked at length about where the money would come from.
Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton explained that $50 million would come from money saved from the project after refinancing it and the other $50 million would come from bonds not used. He stressed that no money would be taken from other projects in Hampton Roads.
During the discussion, a board member expressed concern over the availability of these 'extra' funds.
Governor Bob McDonnell on Monday asked for the delay until January 2014 and the Va. Dept of Transportation will present that request.
The project to build a second Midtown tunnel, extend the Martin Luther King Freeway in Portsmouth and renovate the existing Midtown and Downtown tunnels will be financed through tolls ranging from $1.59 to $1.84 per car for the tunnels and $.50 for the MLK Extension for tunnel users and $1 for non-tunnel users.
Tolls would be collected starting in late Summer unless the state steps in.
Director of Rail and Public Transportation Thelma Drake supports the governor's request.
'He's very much a compromise person, and I think it's a way for him to reach out and say that he truly does want to work with the region. I appreciate he's done it,' said Drake.
Senator Louise Lucas showed frustration on Monday toward the governor, saying that his support of a delay is only because he won't be in office when the tolls do go into effect.
Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim supports keeping the current contract. He said he doesn't see the governor's move as a ploy, but rather a reasonable move to make sure the project has all the sources of revenue it can possibly get.
'My hope is that the folks who are pressing the governor to do this, and a lot of General Assembly members were, will also turn their attention to raising more revenue, so we can apply them to tolls or building more transportation alternatives then just taking this tunnel,' stated Fraim.