I am opposed to using tolls to complete the U.S. 35 upgrade. I suggest we build the remaining 14.6 miles on a mile by mile basis as the funds become available. I do not believe the DOH or Parkways Authority should cram this down the people’s throats if there is an adequate public outcry against it.
I understand that a toll would even apply to the completed section from the Buffalo Bridge to W.Va. 34 and I-64, which has been paid for with matching federal funds and our West Virginia taxes. In consideration of our Putnam County neighbors who are using the new stretch of U.S. 35 from I-64 to the Buffalo Bridge to get home from work at no fee, are they going to be told “now you must pay?” Surely this road was not built with the intention of putting a toll on it. I contend that no toll should be charged for this stretch of highway.
Please do not misunderstand my position. I believe the U.S. 35 upgrade needs to be completed to save lives now. My concern is whether the truckers will revert to using the old 35 again due to tolls being charged on a completed new upgrade. Certainly discrimination would prevent banning them from use of the old 35 route.
I understand the number one purpose of the upgrade was to remove the death threat to travelers of old U.S. 35. However, if we local travelers choose to use old 35 because of the tolls, won’t the dangers of accidents and loss of lives still exist if the truckers also decide to avoid the tolls by traveling old 35? It would appear that the current dangers could exist even if the completion of the U.S. 35 upgrade is funded by toll charges.
And additional question is: “Will this be another West Virginia Turnpike situation with tolls on the U.S. 35 upgrade for the rest of our lives?” The actual highway costs of the West Virginia Turnpike should have been paid off years ago. But the Parkway Authority kept adding projects, such as Tamarack, ect. and borrowing money in a manner that has kept a toll on the turnpike. Will this toll ever be removed and the highway turned over to the Federal Interstate System? Should we expect the same scenario if tolls are placed on the U.S. 35 upgrade — “once a toll road, then a toll road forever?”