|Thursday, June 02, 2011 – Robert Lang|
|The Maryland Transportation Authority took the first formal step towards approving tolls on the Bay Bridge and other bridges, tunnels and toll roads.Under the proposal, given preliminary approval today, tolls for passenger cars on the Bay Bridge would increase from $2.50 to $5 on October 1, and to $8 on July 1, 2013.Tolls for the Harbor Tunnel, Fort McHenry Tunnel and the Key Bridge in Baltimore would increase from $2 to $3 on October 1, and to $4 on July 1, 2013.
Tolls for the John F. Kennedy Highway (I-95) and the Hatem Memorial Bridge (U.S. Route 40) would increase from $5 to $6 on October 1, and to $8 on July 1, 2013.
Tolls for the Harry W. Nice Bridge in Southern Maryland would increase from $3 to $5 in October, and to $8 on July 1, 2013.
There would also be toll hikes for commuters, and E-Z Pass users. There would also be toll hikes for the Inter-County Connector (ICC) around the Washington DC Suburbs. Only part of that road is open to traffic.
The Authority is also proposing to establish a video toll rate for motorists who pass through an EZ-Pass lane without the device, or without a cash payment. That rate is 25% higher than the base cash rate.
Maryland Transportation Secretary Beverly Swaim-Staley who chairs the authority says that the toll hikes are needed to maintain the aging bridges and roads, as well as paying for the ICC.
Lawmakers who represent the Eastern Shore are outraged.
Upper Eastern Shore Delegate Michael Smigel calls the toll hikes another example of the state’s “war on rural Maryland” noting the toll hikes will drive away business and tourists on the Eastern Shore.
The Authority will hold nine public hearings this summer on the toll hikes.
A final vote on the toll hikes is expected this fall.
… These people just don’t get it. Maybe it’s time to send them the same message that Washington, DC received in the last general election of 2010. It’s time for the big “tax and spenders” to g-o-! Fees are a tax. …