PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) - The Portsmouth City Council announced Tuesday it will give $50,000 toward the legal fight to stop tolls at the Midtown and Downtown tunnels.
Last year, approximately 40 residents raised $150,000 to hire Richmond attorney Pat McSweeney to fight the tunnel tolls.
The lawsuit against the state will be heard by a Portsmouth judge May 1. It is an effort to sto p the Virginia Department of Transportation and Elizabeth River Crossings, a private company, from imposing tolls on drivers who use the Downtown and Midtown tunnels.
The tolls would cost drivers between $1.59 and $1.84 each time they drive through the tunnels.
McSweeney filed the lawsuit claiming the deal to build another tube at the Midtown tunnel and extend the Martin Luther King Freeway between Interstate 664 and 264 is illegal.
"I don't want to stop smiling," Portsmouth resident Terry Danaher said. "It feels really good for a change."
Danaher was one of the first residents to join the lawsuit. She was sitting in the council chambers when Mayor Kenny Wright made the announcement.
"It was great," Danaher said. "I'm so excited for those of us who have been working on this since [last] February."
Wright said he was in Richmond last week and got the "vibe" law makers aren't willing to help stop the tolls.
"This is a big deal, because this is taxpayer money that's going behind it," Wright said.
Residents hope Portsmouth City Council's actions will push other cities to make similar moves.
WAVY.com spoke with a Norfolk City Council member who said there has been no talk of pitching in from their end.
"Hopefully our city council will set an example to other city councils to look closer to the problem, because our plaintiffs come from all over," Danaher said.
"We can't do this alone," Wright said. "We need each other. Just look at what happened with Virginia Beach and the NBA team. You can't do these types of large-scale projects large scale efforts alone."
The tolls are scheduled to go in effect Feb. 1, 2014.
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