by Ron Gregory
Charleston — Some legislators were surprised to learn, during the recent special and interim session of the legislature, that first responders are required to pay tolls while traveling on the West Virginia Turnpike.
In fact, Lincoln County Republican Delegate Zack Maynard said, “I went straight to our staff and told them I wanted a bill drafted to change that.”
In a report concerning parkway tolls, legislators were told, “first responders, including emergency ambulances, are required to pay tolls when traveling the West Virginia Turnpike. Minutes count when trying to save a life and departments and ambulances should not have to worry about stopping to pay tolls in emergency situations,” the report said.
The report continued, “The Turnpike Authority has recommended the usage of EZ-Passes as a solution to the problem but our member have reported numerous billing errors and in penalty charges when utlilizing the devices.”
The report continued, “of even greater concern is the pending toll increases on the West Virginia turnpike intended to fund revenue bonds to finance road projects. The single fee discount program for EZ-Pass transponders, intended to offset these costs for West Virginians, is limited to passenger motor vehicles making most first responder vehicles ineligible.” This might require an ambulance to pay between $5.20 and $6.50 per toll, basically doubling the current rate, according to the report.
Maynard said he and other legislators will meet with turnpike officials in an attempt to resolve the situation.