ARLINGTON, Va. - There is new evidence showing how some drivers in Northern Virginia are fed up with the tolls on Interstate 66. Cell phone video taken by a Virginia resident shows drivers pulled off on the side of the road and waiting for the evening rush hour toll period to end before they get on I-66.
Since the I-66 Express Lanes opened last December, tolls have been seen climbing over $40 for solo drivers during peak times of rush hour over the past few months. Even on Monday morning, the toll was reportedly near $47 for those driving from Northern Virginia into D.C. on I-66.
Annathea Cook captured video of I-66 from her high-rise apartment in Rosslyn last week just before 7 p.m. and sent it to the ARLnow.com, which first reported this story.
The toll was only about $3 to $5, according to the Express Lanes sign. However, there were several vehicles lined up on the shoulder and median of the roadway, and along the ramp apparently waiting for the toll to end at 7 p.m.
Cook said she sees this as a safety risk that could increase the chance for accidents while also making it more difficult for someone who needs to pull over on the shoulder for a real emergency.
"On any given weekday rush hour time, you will see at least one or two cars parked out there with their hazards on, but I have seen as many as 15 or maybe even more cars parked out there on a normal day," she said. "They just sit there. I am not sure how long they sit there, but they sit there until the toll goes far enough down that they are willing to drive. The maximum number of cars I have seen out here, there is literally is nowhere to pull off the side of the road."
Virginia State Police said this is illegal and you could be ticketed and end up paying much more than you would have by just paying the toll. Police spokesperson Corinne Geller said in a statement to FOX 5:
Individuals stopping to wait for tolls to lift is not a new problem. This has also been an ongoing issue on Interstate 395 and more so since the Express Lanes opened. State Police are well aware that vehicles are stopping and waiting for the tolling period to end in the morning and evening on Interstate 66. State police take this issue very seriously and continue to enforce the law, but we are limited due to an ongoing shortage of troopers. Plus, emergency calls for service do have to take priority.
It is illegal from vehicles to stop and park on the shoulder to wait for tolling to conclude. The only exceptions to stopping on the shoulder would be an actual emergency such as a motor-vehicle crash or a medical emergency.
Troopers take the necessary enforcement action whenever possible and this can only occur when they are not actively handling other calls for service.