Public hearings on proposed toll increases set
Baltimoreans who want to protest -- or support -- the Maryland Transportation Authority's recent proposal to raise rates dramatically at the state's toll facilities will get their first convenient opportunity June 13, when the agency will hold a public hearing at Digital Harbor High School in Baltimore.
That hearing. at 1100 Covington Street in Federal Hill, will be the second on nine to be held in various locations around the state. The first is set for June 9 in Gaithersburg, about an hour's drive from Baltimore in Montgomery County. There is a good chance that attendance at that hearing will be sparse because the toll proposal has only a minor effect on the Intercounty Connector, the only toll facility in Montgomery.
Much more lively hearings are likely at locations close to the toll facilities that would see hefty increases under the proposal. In metropolitan Baltimore, those include hearings June 20 in Arnold, June 21 in Dundalk and June 27 in Havre de Grace. All of the meetings run from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., with registration for comments closing at 7:45 p.m.
Other hearings outside the Baltimore area will be held on June 14 in Beltsville (Prince George's County), June 15 in Stevensville (Queen Anne's County) , June 16 in Perryville (Cecil County) and June 22 in Newburg (Charles County). A full schedule, with exact locations, can be found here.
Comments to the authority can be submitted any time until Aug. 1 at http://mdta.force.com/publiccomment or by mail at MDTA Toll Comment, 2310 Broening Highway, Baltimore MD 21224. Written comments are also accepted at the public hearings.
The authority's board is expected to make a final decision on the toll proposal in August and to implement its first round of increases Oct. 1. The plan would raise tolls a second time in July 2013.
Under the proposal the round trip toll rates at all of authority's facilities, with the exception of the ICC, would be standardized at $8. ICC tolls follow a different plan, under which tolls are adjusted according to congestion levels. When the toll road fully opens late this year or early in 2012, drivers making round trips over its full length during peak hours are already expected too pay more than $8.