As the Richmond area sees toll rates increase across the region starting today, a transportation official is recommending that commuters, instead of paying the extra 20 cents on the Powhite Parkway, simply avoid traveling to the Southside altogether.
While mainline tolls on the Downtown Expressway and Powhite Parkway have increased from 50 cents to 70 cents to help pay for the costs of road maintenance and future improvements, Richmond Metropolitan Authority General Manager Robert M. Berry said that the rate jump on the Powhite, a main transportation artery into the Southside, “was done only as encouragement to stay the hell out of the Southside.”
“Quite frankly, we don’t need the extra money for the Powhite, it’s just that there is no reason to ever go to the Southside,” he said, before quickly adding, “Ever.”
And Richmond area residents apparently agree. Julie Chapman, who uses the Downtown Expressway daily to get to work, said she once accidentally took the wrong exit and ended up on the Southside.
“It took me four hours to find my way back home,” said Chapman, a 32-year-old copywriter at a city advertising firm. “I would have stopped to ask for directions, but the thing is, I don’t speak Southsidian.”
All the more reason to stay put, the metropolitan authority’s Berry says.
“We have everything we need to live comfortably up here: great shopping, wonderful food, an airport, recreation, a strong business climate, and friendly people,” he said. “Given, all of that is located in the Southside as well, but that is for the sustenance of those few residents who, by choices understood only to themselves, call that part of town home.”
Berry added that, should the rate increase have no effect on commuter use of the toll roads, the metropolitan authority would “strongly consider” halting all maintenance on the Powhite, increasing tolls to $50 per use, or aerial bombing all inbound bridges and roads into the Southside.
RELATED SOUTHSIDE COVERAGE BY TA: “Scientists uncover land mass just south of Richmond”