As a last resort, Maryland announces toll increase

Delay in long-term federal highway bill will cost motorists double to travel some routes

Funding News The Washington Post September 23, 2011
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The Maryland Transportation Authority cannot wait any longer. A lack of road funding, mainly caused by the delay in passing a new long-term federal highway bill, is forcing the agency to raise tolls across its network. Some motorists might pay double to what they are paying now.

“I know it’s a very tough time and this is very hard for the public, but I can’t stress enough that we had no choice but to raise tolls,” said Maryland Transportation Secretary Beverley Swaim-Staley. “Commitments were raised, and bills were coming due. This is definitely not something that any of us wanted to do.”

Crossing the Chesapeake Bay and Gov. Harry W. Nice Memorial bridges will now cost $4, and that fee will increase to $6 in 2013. The toll had remained flat on the Bay Bridge since the 1970s. Overall, the spike should generate $225 million by 2014.

Maryland, however, is facing a tough uphill climb. The state must pay debt service on bonds already issued to repair aging roads and bridges, and there is still money owed for the $2.56 billion Intercounty Connector (ICC). Drivers who use the ICC and are without an E-ZPass transponder will pay 150% of the base toll, which varies depending of the time of day.

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