No public hearings for E-ZPass fee

      RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The Virginia Department of Transportation says it isn't planning any public hearings on the proposed $1 monthly E-ZPass transponder fee.

      The agency is proposing the fee to help support expansion of the E-ZPass system on toll roads as accounts are expected to double in the next several years. It wants to start charging the fee July 1.

      But the Richmond-Times Dispatch reports that the department says state law doesn't require hearings on the issue.

      About 900,000 E-ZPass transponders are in service in Virginia. The program costs VDOT $10 million a year to operate and paid for by charging transaction fees to the toll facilities.

      The agency says the proposed fee should generate $13.8 million a year over the course of five years.

      But users have sharply criticized the proposal.