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Virginia judge rules against tunnel toll plan

Wednesday - 5/1/2013, 6:10pm  ET

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (AP) -- A judge has ruled against the state's plan to impose tolls at two existing tunnels to help pay for a new tunnel connecting Norfolk and Portsmouth.

Portsmouth Circuit Judge James A. Cales Jr. ruled Wednesday in favor of a group of businesses and residents who sued in 2012. They argued that the Virginia Department of Transportation and Elizabeth River Crossings don't have the authority to impose taxes.

The lawsuit claims the tolls are taxes because the existing Downtown and Midtown tunnels' construction costs have been paid.

Elizabeth River Crossings won a $2.1 billion contract to build the new tunnel, renovate the Downtown Tunnel and expand the Martin Luther King Expressway in Portsmouth. Tolls were to begin next February.

Media outlets report VDOT and the company indicated they would appeal.

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