The Maine Turnpike is one of the oldest of its kind in the U.S., and it’s still keen on what it needs to do to survive.
The Maine Turnpike Authority (MTA) wants $26 million in toll increases annually to address $113 million in bridge repairs, $82 million in paving and other road improvements and a debt from a highway widening project completed in 2004. The added charge, ranging from .50 to $1, will help fuel the movement. The toll hike would take effect Nov. 1. The commercial side will take a bigger hit, with fees being 4.25 times the amount charged to the average motorist. At the York toll plaza, that amounts to a $12.75 toll.
“We’ve anticipated this for years,” said Peter Mills, MTA’s executive director. “We’ve done what we can to mitigate it in the sense that we refinanced a lot of these bonds at much lower interest rates.”
The MTA, which will hold three public hearings to discuss the toll increase, pulls in about $103 million a year in tolls and an additional $3 million from service plazas.
“This is to maintain what we have, and that’s critically important in the tourism industry,” Vaughn Stinson, chief executive officer of the Maine Tourism Association, told the Bangor Daily News. “If the roads are beat up or pot-holed or unsafe, they’re just not going to come. And the thing is, they will tell everybody about that experience.”