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October 28, 2011

Toll hikes coming Tuesday: How will they affect you?

The first phase of the largest package of toll increases in Maryland's history will take effect at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday as the bill comes due for two mega-projects and the state transportation system's aging infrastructure.

The increases were approved by the board of The Maryland Transportation Authority in September after a series of public hearings led to some modifications in the original plan but only minor changes in its overall scope.

Getting There is interested in hearing from users of the states' various toll facilities about how the increases will affect them -- in their commuting, in personal travel or in doing business. Please email michael.dresser@baltsun.com and include a phone number where you can be reached.

The increases will affect each of the state’s seven fully opened toll facilities with fixed basic rates. Only the Intercounty Connector, a partly opened toll road that uses a variable pricing scheme bases on traffic levels, is exempt. They are the first changes to the tolls paid by passenger vehicles since 2003, though truckers absorbed a round of increases in 2009.

At the three Baltimore Harbor crossings – the Harbor Tunnel, Fort McHenry Tunnel and the Key Bridge – drivers will pay a $3 cash rate each way instead of the $2 they've been kicking in since 2003.

On the John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway, as Interstate 95 northeast of Baltimore is known, the basic northbound toll will rise from $5 to $6. At the Thomas J. Hatem Memorial Bridge, which crosses the Susquehanna River on U.S. 40 as it parallels I-95, the same rate will apply.

On the Bay Bridge, where the $2.50 toll had been frozen in place since the 1970s, motorists’ luck will run out Tuesday. The rate will go up to $4 – collected eastbound only -- at least sparing drivers the ordeal of fumbling with change. In Southern Maryland, users of the Gov. Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge will pay a like sum, instead of the previous $3, to make the southbound Potomac River crossing.

Truckers will absorb some of the largest hikes, but the board gave them a two-month reprieve. The higher truck tolls will not go into effect untill Jan. 1 so that trucking companies on year-to-year contracts have a chance to renegotiate rates with shippers to reflect the increases.

Tuesday’s increases will be followed by a second round in July 2013 that will push the cost of a round trip at the Harbor crossings, the Kennedy Highway and the Hatem to $8. The increases at the Bay and Nice Bridges will be held to $6 because the authority board decided an earlier plan to more than double the tolls at the two spans was too much too soon.

The increases are being driven largely by the need to repay bonds issued for two giant projects the state embarked on during the last decade -- the $2.6 billion ICC and the $1 billion Express Toll Lanes project on I-95. Also contributing to the need for revenue is the need to maintain the aging infrastructure of the toll facilities, which include two bridges that date to 1940 and a span of the Bay Bridge that is almost 60 years old.

 

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 6:00 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Maryland toll facilities
        

Comments

It’s an abomination – that’s what it is. These tolls should only be to pay for the maintenance of the facilities they support. PERIOD!! To use this money for anything else is downright criminal. Heads need to roll. These tolls should not go to pay for some ICC and a set of by-pass lanes on I-95 that nobody wants and will have to pay to use. Haven’t we seen enough in this state!!??!! When is it going to end? The leaders of this state need to go!!!

Avoid the tunnel tolls and drive through the city. It is just as fast and cheaper. Get off at eatern ave and go all the way down till you reach president Street turn right then follow lombard all the way to 95. you will avoid the tolls all together.

Dear Citizens of Maryland,

How do you like you tax and spend one party system now.

Can you say EXTORTION?

That's right Maryland law makers - THIEVES.

Let us not forget the Sunpaper with its liberal bias. This issue should have been fought with every means at your disposal. In a time of deep resession you fight and stand for nothing!

Cowards all!!!

Well Citizens. The law makers in Maryland have stuck it to you once again. They think that your hard earned money belongs to them and not you.

As I have said to you many times in the past:

It is time for the PEACEFUL (that's right peaceful) and CONTITUTIONAL (that's right constitutional) over through of this and all governments: federal, state or local who continues to extort money for their own corrupt purposes.

Wake up and smell the coffee.

Think about it citizens.

Rediculous. All these years, I have been paying my taxes, on time, every year. Where does my money go? Can I charge the state a gas fee for me sitting in traffic due to contruction?

What about all the 'white jeeps' ticketing drivers? Where is there money going?

And just think, here comes a new gas tax!!!! When will Marylanders wake up, this is getting rediculous - Stalin would be proud.

Keep voting in Democrat state officials and Democrat governors and you'll get more of the same. You libs in this state have voted us into this mess.

A few months back werent they saying the first toll raise would be Nov 2012? Why a year early? Bet this next hike in 2013 will come early as well.

COMMENT: No, it's been expected in late 2011 for a long time. It's unlikelly the 2013 increases will be moved up.--MTD

Again............what happened to all the toll money they collected for the past 30 years? That wasn't enough to "maintain" the facilities and rebuild a couple bridges? The state leaders wasted it...........on projects that they most likely have a personal financial interest in.

Any changes to the ez pass rate at the ft. Mchenry tunnel?

COMMENT: Basic toll goes from $2 to $2.70 (10% off $3). Commuter rate goes from 40 cents to 75 cents.--MTD

MTD, is the Ft. McHenry toll the only one with the 10% discount? Where else does that discount apply?

COMMENT: It applies at all Maryland toll facilities except the ICC.

I've driven around the harbor toll unless I was in a hurry and will continue to do so. As for I-95 Northbound toll, I've bought a Rt 40 decal for years now and will continue to do so until the program ends b/c it's such a good deal. When that program ends, I'm strongly considering driving up Rt 1 into Newark and picking up I-95 somewhere in DE.

As for all of the posters posting their political rhetoric, you can bash the Dems all you want, but keep in mind it was a Republican who pushed through the ICC and I-95 expansion that the toll increases are going to be paying for. You can't win with either party- one takes your money and keeps it for themselves, the other takes your money and gives it to everybody else. You lose either way.

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About Michael Dresser
Michael Dresser has been an editor, reporter and columnist with The Sun longer than Baltimore's had a subway. He's covered retailing, telecommunications, state politics and wine. Since 2004, he's been The Sun's transportation writer. He lives in Ellicott City with his wife and travel companion, Cindy.

His Getting There column appears on Mondays. Mike's blog will be a forum for all who are interested in highways, transit and other transportation issues affecting Baltimore, Maryland and the region.
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