UPDATE: WV Turnpike toll increase delayed until Jan. 15, 2019

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WTAP, WSAZ) - UPDATE: 12/31/2018, 4:45 p.m.
The planned toll increase on Tuesday, Jan. 1 on the West Virginia Turnpike will be delayed until Jan. 15, the West Virginia Parkways Authority decided Monday.

It came after Gov. Jim Justice expressed concern earlier Monday about possible traffic delays, backups and safety issues if the increase was implemented on Tuesday. Gregory Barr, general manager of the West Virginia Parkways Authority, spoke about those concerns following the decision to delay toll increases.

"If you get backups into the toll lanes, talking about this increase in a situation where you got bad weather, chances of black ice, the chances of a rear-end collision or some nasty thing such as that that would cause injury ... we just don't want that to happen. We don't want to contribute to even a possibility of that happening," Barr said.

Starting Jan. 15, tolls on the West Virginia Turnpike will increase from $2 to $4. That change was approved back in June.

The Parkways Authority is offering a deal to cut costs for all drivers: A $24 pass and a $13 transponder fee gets you unlimited travel on the turnpike for three years. As long as your mail envelope is postmarked, fax is sent, or online application is submitted by that day -- Jan. 11 -- you will get to take advantage of the deal.

The West Virginia Parkways Authority extended the deadline for a deal on the E-Z Pass following an overwhelming surge of applications. The agency's website crashed Friday due to the high demand. A second website was set up Sunday night to help keep up with that demand.


UPDATE: 12/31/2018, 2:26 p.m.

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice says he has asked the state's Parkways Authority to consider delaying the January 1, 2019 start date for increased tolls on the West Virginia Turnpike.

The toll is scheduled to increase to $4.00 per vehicle, per-toll plaza, for Motorcycles, Passenger Cars, Passenger Vans and Pickup Trucks, if the vehicle is under 7'6" tall.

In a statement released Monday, Gov. Justice said,

"I have expressed my deep concerns to the West Virginia Parkways Authority regarding potential traffic delays, backups, and safety on the Turnpike as a result of the planned toll increase on January 1, 2019, and the delay in delivering the transponders in a timely manner. I urge the Parkways Authority to take immediate action and consider delaying implementation of the toll increase until these issues are resolved. All West Virginians should take this opportunity to purchase an E-ZPass and take advantage of this incredible discount. Mountaineers drive nearly for free, apply online now for year-round savings."

In a special deal extended to Jan. 11, 2019, drivers can purchase an E-Z Pass for $24, plus a $13 transponder fee, to get toll-free, unlimited travel for 3 years through all West Virginia Turnpike toll plazas.

To register for this E-Z Pass deal, call 1-800-206-6222, or download a printable, mail-in application form at the "WV Turnpike E-Z Pass Application for 2019" link in the "Related Links" section of this story.

To see the 2019 toll rates for all types of vehicles at each toll plaza, click the "2019 West Virginia Turnpike Toll Rates" link in the "Related Links" section of this story.


UPDATE 12/28/2018, 3:15 p.m.

The West Virginia Parkways Authority has extended the deadline for a deal on the E-Z Pass to January 11, 2019, following an overwhelming surge of applications.

They had an emergency meeting Friday afternoon and voted to extend the deadline from Jan. 1 to Jan. 11.

The Parkways Authority is offering a deal to cut costs for all drivers: A $24 pass and a $13 transponder fee gets you unlimited travel on the turnpike for three years. As long as your mail envelope is postmarked, fax is sent, or online application is submitted by that day -- Jan. 11 -- you will get to take advantage of the deal.

If you wait until after the Jan. 11 deadline, you'll pay $1 more for the pass ($25) and it will only last you for one year.

If you already had an open account, you were automatically enrolled into this deal back in September.

Starting Jan. 1, tolls on the West Virginia Turnpike will increase from $2 to $4. That change was approved back in June.

Customers trying to take advantage of the deal before it expires overloaded the website. After the website crashed, applicants went to apply in person. (As of 3 p.m. Friday, the website is up and running again.)

Frustration grew Friday as a line wrapped around the Parkways Authority building in Charleston. People even stood in the rain.

"It was more than anybody expected," said Greg Barr, General Manager at the Parkways Authority.

Gov. Jim Justice released a statement, “After becoming aware of the technical challenges and service disruptions to the E-ZPass enrollment service, I have asked the West Virginia Parkways Authority to convene an emergency board meeting today and find a solution to this problem. Rest assured I will continue to monitor this situation to ensure West Virginians have an opportunity to purchase an Ez-Pass.”

At the meeting, Barr explained that the number of applications skyrocketed this week. After Christmas, the floodgates opened, he said. It was a situation they've never dealt with before.

In addition to showing up in person, people have been applying by fax, mail, and the website.

"We're doing everything we can to assist people who are here," said Wayne Webb, Director of Customer Service at the Parkways Authority.

Employees are working overtime to make sure all of the applications are processed. Barr said the walk-in customer service center will be open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, even though it's a state holiday. The center will be closed on New Year's Day then back open Wednesday through Friday.

Barr said employees are also working late into the evening and on weekends to make sure orders are processed. That does not mean customers can expect help outside of business hours, but workers will be there processing orders and taking care of other behind-the-scenes tasks.

The general manager also said he is concerned there will be another surge of applications after the toll price changes on Jan. 1. Luckily, Barr said they have a board meeting on Jan. 10 and can evaluate if they need to extend the deadline again for heavy demand.

Parkways Authority officials also wanted to remind people that they cannot guarantee when the devices will actually start working. Webb said some people see their transponders working in a matter of minutes, but in most cases, they won't start working until after midnight following the purchase.

They also cleared up a rumor during the meeting: No, the Parkways Authority is not running out of transponders for those showing up to apply in person.


UPDATE 12/21/18 @ 5:45 p.m.

The deadline to get a deal on an EZ pass is just around the corner. Starting Jan. 1, the toll booths at the West Virginia Turnpike will go from $2 to $4.

The W.Va. Parkways Authority is offering a deal to cut costs for all drivers for just 10 more days. A $24 pass, and a $13 transponder fee gets you unlimited travel on the turnpike for three years.

If you already had an open account, you were automatically enrolled into this deal back in September. If you wait until after the first, you'll be paying $1 more for the pass, but it will only last you for one year.

We spoke with several people in line at Parkways Authority on Friday, who are buying this as a Christmas present for others.

"I came in the other day and I was filling out my paperwork and I was thinking, oh my gosh, my sister will be paying that every time she comes up to visit dad," Kathryn Maddy said. "I'm going to get it for her for Christmas."

Maddy explained that she bought a pass for herself, for her sister and for her son-in-law. She says it's the gift that keeps on giving.

Officials with the W.Va. Parkways Authority tell us 15,000 people have enrolled this month, which is a major uptick compared to previous months, with some months having enrollment numbers as low as 1,000.

The deadline to apply is Dec. 31. The office will be closed for Christmas Eve and Christmas day, but you can purchase your pass online Click here.


UPDATE 8/30/18 @ 8:45 a.m.

West Virginia drivers have limited time to take advantage of a deal to save money on the roads.

It comes after the W.Va. Parkways Authority approved doubling the toll rate back in June. Starting Jan. 1, according to officials, tolls will go from $2 to $4. The EZ Pass program is also changing.

Drivers can take advantage of a deal through the end of 2018 to save on EZ Pass costs over the next three years

W.Va. Parkways Authority officials say drivers who already have EZ Pass will automatically be enrolled in a program costing $24 for unlimited use over the next three years. The authority will notify drivers of the new fee by letter.

Anyone who does not currently have an EZ Pass can still take advantage of the $24 unlimited program by signing up for EZ Pass as soon as possible.

Officials with the West Virginia Governor's Office tell WSAZ that anyone can sign up for the unlimited three year program beginning Sept.15 through Dec. 31 at a cost of $24 for the EZ Pass, plus $13 for the EZ Pass transponder.

Anyone looking to save a few extra dollars can sign up for one of the existing plans before Sept. 15 and avoid the $13 transponder fee. The account will automatically switch to the unlimited three year program on Sept. 15. That being said, officials say there is still a minimal $5 transponder fee associated with that early option.

Beginning Jan. of 2019, anyone looking to purchase a pass can pay $25 per year for unlimited toll use.

After 2021, all drivers will pay $25 a year for the EZ Pass.

Gov. Jim Justice's Office says to call this number if you have any questions: 1-800-206-6222.


UPDATE 8/30/2018 @ 8:45 a.m.

West Virginia drivers have limited time to take an advantage of a deal to save money on the roads.

It comes after the W.Va. Parkways Authority approved doubling the toll rate back in June. Starting Jan. 1, according to officials, tolls will go from two dollars to four dollars. The EZ Pass program is also changing.

Drivers can take advantage of a deal through the end of 2018 to save on EZ Pass costs over the next three years

W.Va. Parkways Authority says drivers who already have EZ Pass will be automatically be enrolled in a program, costing $24 for unlimited use over the next three years. The authority will notify drivers of the new fee by letter.

Anyone who does not currently have an EZ Pass can still take advantage of the $24 unlimited program by signing up for EZ Pass as soon as possible

Officials with the West Virginia Governor's Office tell WSAZ that anyone can sign up for the unlimited three year program beginning September 15 through December 31 at a cost of $24 for the EZ Pass, plus $13 for the EZ Pass transponder.

Anyone looking to save a few extra dollars can sign up for one of the existing plans before September 15 and avoid the $13 transponder fee.

The account will automatically switch to the unlimited three year program September 15.

That being said, officials say there is still a minimal $5 transponder fee associated with that early option.

You can sign up at wvturnpike.com.

Beginning January 2019, anyone looking to purchase a pass can pay $25 per year for unlimited toll use.

After 2021, all drivers will pay $25 a year for the EZ Pass.

Gov. Jim Justice's Office says to call this number if you have any questions: 1-800-206-6222.


UPDATE 6/7/18 @ 12:10 p.m.

Toll rates on the West Virginia Turnpike will go up starting next year.

The W.Va. Parkways Authority voted unanimously Thursday to double the toll rate. Starting Jan. 1, tolls will go from $2 to $4.

The EZ Pass program will also change. Drivers who already have an EZ Pass will pay $24 for a three year pass. The authority will notify drivers of the new fee by letter later this year.

Starting in September, if drivers want to join the EZ Pass program it will cost $24 plus $13 to get the EZ Pass transponder.

Starting Jan. 1, it will cost $25 a year for unlimited toll use.

Applications for the program will be made easily available to drivers, according to the authority.

The authority will have a phone number to call, a website available for drivers to get more information about the program. Applications will be available at a variety of places, including malls and convenient stores.

If drivers apply for the program before Jan. 1, they won't have to pay the $13 for the transponder.

After 2021, all drivers will pay $25 a year for the EZ Pass.

The last time tolls increased was in 2009 when they went up from $1.25 to $2.


UPDATE 5/9/18 @ 6:16 p.m.

As toll rates are proposed to rise, the West Virginia Parkways Authority has planned a series of four informational public meetings.

The public is invited to discuss the proposed toll rate changes and the issuance of toll revenue bonds. The first meeting is scheduled for Thursday evening from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Belle at Riverside High School.

At the meetings, there will be six informational stations plus an overview by the Parkways General Manager and time for public comments.

In April, WSAZ reported that the toll rates were set to double from $2 to $4 to help fund the projects along the turnpike.

Members of the parkways authority said then that the increase would put West Virginia in the top 10 for most expensive toll rates in the country.

But as toll rates rise, the state is planning the Single Fee Discount Program and the early enrollment options. Starting in July, drivers will be able to get an EZ-Pass for $24 for three years. That deal only lasts until December and then the rate goes to $25 a year.

The other meetings are scheduled for May 11 at Fayette County Courthouse, May 14 at Raleigh County Armory and May 15 at the Mercer County Courthouse.


UPDATE 4/5/18 @ 8:40 p.m.

Changes to the West Virginia Turnpike and toll booths are coming down the pike.

Those changes will be a little pricey, though, as rates are set to double from $2 to $4 to help fund projects along the turnpike including road and bridge repairs in southern West Virginia.

The West Virginia Parkways Authority met Thursday to discuss the plans and toll program.

The funds gathered from the rate increase will help fund $300 million in bonds for projects that are part of Gov. Jim Justice’s Roads to Prosperity program.

Greg Barr with WV Parkways Authority says the rate increase would put the state in the top 10 for the most expensive toll rates in the country, however there are plans to relieve the financial toll the bumps would bring to drivers who frequently travel the turnpike.

During the meeting, officials discussed a study they had been conducting regarding rates and ways to relieve the burden the rates would bring.

A resolution was proposed and passed that would initiate an E-ZPass program that gave drivers in passenger cars a yearly flat rate for unlimited turnpike use.

As a way to initiate the program, the state will first offer an extreme discount to drivers with a special offer of $24 for a three year subscription.

Barr says that offer will be available from July to December. After that, the rates will be $25 a year, but that’s still a significant drop from the $285 E-ZPass plans that are offered now.

Barr says the Parkways Authority will hold public meetings in May before everything is set in stone.


ORIGINAL STORY 3/27/18 @ 5:41 p.m.

If you’ve already scheduled your yearly summer vacation to the beach, listen up. Starting this spring, some major projects and major changes are getting underway with the West Virginia Turnpike.

That includes a new toll program, new paving, new painting, and the tolls themselves are going to start rising in the next few years.

Nearly a year ago, Gov. Jim Justice signed a bill allowing a flat annual fee for West Virginia drivers on the turnpike. We’re now learning a new study is underway. From July to December, you can sign up for $24 and be locked in at that rate for the next three years of unlimited turnpike use.

“On the flip side of that, the toll rates will change. It’s not, nothing's been adopted yet, but there will be increasing toll rates for all classes of vehicles,” explained Greg Barr with the West Virginia Turnpike Authority.

With no EZ Pass, passenger cars currently pay $2 at all main road toll plazas. That means 12 trips a year through any main toll plaza, or four trips up and down the whole turnpike to equal that $24.

But there’s other impacts coming to the turnpike starting in the next few weeks. That includes paving a stretch northbound from Chelyan all the way to the Yeager Bridge. Right now, this stretch is considered to be in poor condition, and it’s the last part of their $27 million paving project.

“That's actually the final leg of our 10 year deferred paving program. And then all of our road surfaces will be in very good condition,” Barr said.

Coming down the pike still, there’s going to be culvert replacement, new bridge decks coming for 111 overpasses and major painting projects on bridges including the Yeager Bridge.

Part of this comes from the governor’s road bond program voted in last fall. While still in the early stages, consultants talked about issuing bonds, saying there could be bonds issued as early as July for $120 million. A second phase, a few years down the road, could see an additional $198 million in bonds offered.

Other details discussed at the Tuesday meeting include the widening of part of the turnpike near Beckley. There will be an upgrade to the toll plazas coming within the next few years. It was also discussed that 80 percent of the turnpike’s pavement is in good or very good condition. They estimate minimal paving through their 30-year projections.

Turnpike officials also say they’ve changed their pavement mixture too, turning to a mix that includes more asphalt. They add this mixture makes it harder for salt and water to penetrate the roadway.

As for those toll increases, there’s a meeting scheduled for next week at Tamarack in Beckley where it’s expected the toll fees and increase schedules will be announced.