RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — With toll rates for Powhite Parkway and the Downtown Expressway set to increase Sept. 1, drivers in and around Richmond have raised concerns about the current state of toll plazas in the area.

The Richmond Metropolitan Transportation Authority (RMTA) Board of Directors voted Tuesday to adjust toll pricing along the RMTA Expressway System. In September, toll rates will increase for all two-axle vehicles from $0.70 to $0.90 for E-ZPass customers and $1.00 for drivers paying with cash. According to a release, revenues from the adjusted tolls will go toward future maintenance and capital improvement projects.

8News first reported on the proposed toll increases last week. But back in February, 8News reached out to RMTA regarding concerns from drivers who said they had issues with cash tolls on multiple occasions, where they would toss in the required $0.70 in coins, but the gantry would not recognize the payment.

An RMTA spokesperson sent the following statement:

The RMTA is dedicated to maintaining our equipment by providing periodic maintenance checks and when identified repairing equipment. In the instance that change is counted inaccurately by an RMTA cash machine and a customer has submitted the correct amount, a customer may continue to travel through the lane. The RMTA does not expect customers to pay more than the stated toll. Additionally, we encourage all customers to purchase an EZ Pass transponder. Customers can visit to open an account and receive a transponder.  Utilizing a transponder  allows for more efficient and cashless travel on not just RMTA roadways, but on roadways throughout Virginia.

8News’ interview request on the proposed increase was denied last week, and went unanswered Tuesday. But the decision from the Board of Directors was not without debate.

“They may make fewer trips,” board member Donald Williams said during the meeting. “It may have an impact on how they spend their excess funds, their discretionary money, and the things that may affect the way their kitchen table finances are spent.”

As 8News reported last week, budget documents from RMTA showed that the authority had not raised its tolls since 2008, and that a significant drop-off in traffic during the COVID-19 pandemic impacted its funding.

“There were projections that suggested that we should have raised tolls, probably, bond analysts would said we should have raised tolls during the pandemic as we dipped below our debt service coverage ratio,” Commonwealth Transportation Board Representative Carlos Brown said. “One of things that’s very different about this agency compared to almost any other agency I’ve been involved with is that we fund all of our capital with cash.”

Board members also debated over whether to raise tolls to $0.85 or $0.90, but ultimately decided on the latter. Moreover, they discussed launching a public outreach campaign to inform drivers about the tolls changes being made and the reasoning behind them.

“One of the challenges we have is that folks don’t necessarily know the difference between RMTA and VDOT [the Virginia Department of Transportation], and they just see a road and they don’t know really who does it,” RMTA leaders said. “We know that there are big differences between the maintenance of just the care and feeding of our system versus VDOT.”

According to a release on Tuesday’s decision, RMTA receives no federal or state tax dollars, with funding coming strictly from user fees in the form of tolls.

“The Board’s decision was based upon the recommendation of the Authority’s staff, engineers, and traffic and revenue consultants, who cited the age of the Expressway System, escalating capital and maintenance expenses, commuter traffic decline during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and necessary technological enhancements to improve safety and the overall customer experience,” an RMTA spokesperson said in a release.

8News also previously reached out to E-ZPass regarding issues reported by customers at the toll booths but did not receive a response.