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Aug 01 2016
by Hannah Holzer

A College Student Started A Petition to Abolish Tolls

By Hannah Holzer - Aug 01 2016

To use major roads in the U.S., it’s likely that at one time or another, you have come into contact with a toll fee, more dreaded by some than by others.

This extraneous expense accumulated to over $1,000 for Paris Sweat, a college student who has since created a petition calling for “the stop of tunnel tolls.” This petition, which has a goal of 15,000 signatures and has already collected over 11,000, wants to abolish tolls in the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth Virginia.

Included in the description of her petition, Sweat writes that she has always lived in Portsmouth and, to travel out of the city, tolls are unavoidable.

“I am in my early 20's and trying to find (a) better jobs but I just can not keep up with these payments,” Sweat writes. “Tolls on the tunnels should be ABOLISHED. This would be way better for the commuters, and the people of Norfolk and Portsmouth. Life is hard enough especially for a college student trying to make (their) way. I do not want to be in more debt for a tunnel on top of my student loans debt.”

Sweat was burdened with her toll fee of over $1,000 and tried to call and visit the agency which deals with collecting fees in attempts to create a payment plan. However, she was not given any other option other than paying the full fee by the due date.

“You can’t treat everyone like we’re trying to (go around) the system,” Sweat told ABC 13 news. “I understand the system, I understand the purpose (of) the tolls, but now it’s just getting outrageous. They need to think more on our level, and not just think about the money.”

Furthemore, college students are not the only group who feel strained with the toll fees in Virginia.

“I’m signing because I can not deal with (the fees),” one user wrote on the petition. “I have too many bills and have to keep gas in my car. I’m also a struggling single mother with five kids.”

The fees to use the toll roads are an additional expense not covered by the taxes state residents already pay. Even with such programs offered in the state as EZ pay, users are still unhappy with the sky-high highway prices.

“I have worked in Portsmouth 22 years and now I have to pay to go to work,” another supporter of the petition wrote online. “I am not compensated and this is a bill that is getting way out of hand. Even with the EZ pass, they seem to bill me for this trip or that, I can't keep up and I truly cannot afford it. I have to pay close to 120 dollars a month to go to work. That is student loan money, food money, etc. Enough is enough!”

Lead Image Credit: jert13830; John Thompson via Flickr Commons

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Hannah Holzer - UC Davis

Soon-to-be UC Davis freshman, journalist, film enthusiast & baker extraordinaire.

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