Washington, D.C. -- Gov. Mark R. Warner announced that Virginia will join the E-ZPass organization that covers several northeastern and mid-Atlantic states. This will let Virginia's travelers use automatic toll facilities from Maine to Virginia. Visitors from those states will be able to use automatic toll facilities in Virginia. There are about 230,000 Smart Tags in use in Virginia.

"This will be a tremendous convenience for Virginians driving out of state, and out-of-state drivers in Virginia," said Warner. "Keeping traffic moving from Maine to Virginia is also a step toward cleaner air."

Toll roads in nine northeast and mid-Atlantic states make the E-ZPass system available to drivers. Joining the E-ZPass Interagency Group allows both Virginia's citizens and visitors to use their Smart Tag or E-ZPass in the Northeast Corridor. The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) already has begun working on the integration with other E-ZPass members, which include organizations from Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

"Our goal is that by fall 2004, the reciprocal system will be fully implemented, which means motorists should be able to start using their tags and passes on more roads within about a year," said VDOT's Commissioner Philip Shucet.

An added benefit of the new membership is the cost savings from the leveraged buying power on long-term technology costs that Virginia will realize as one of the 20-plus members of the group.

VDOT owns three toll roads: Coleman Bridge (Rt. 17), Dulles Toll Road, and Powhite Parkway Extension (Rt. 76). The others are owned by local governments, the private sector or authorities: Chesapeake Expressway (Rt. 168), Dulles Greenway, Richmond Metropolitan Authority Expressway (Rt. 195) and Pocahontas Parkway (Rt. 895). The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel does not have electronic toll collection.

The estimated cost of integrating E-ZPass with Virginia's Smart Tag technology is between $3.5 million and $4.5 million. Fees for joining total $250,000, with annual fees of $70,000. The fees will cover all of the automatic toll facilities in Virginia.