The Maryland Transportation Authority proposed a toll increase to help manage rising infrastructure costs, which would double the toll on some Interstate highway bridges by mid-2013.
Faced with significant costs to repair aging infrastructure and add highway capacity in the Baltimore and Washington regions, the MDTA proposed a significant toll increase. The plan is expected to generate approximately $77 million in the first fiscal year for the agency that oversees Maryland's eight toll facilities.
The proposal increases toll rates for all vehicles at Maryland tunnels and bridges and at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway (I-95) turnpike, and introduces Video Toll rates for all Maryland toll facilities.
For instance, at the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel on I-895, the Fort McHenry Tunnel on I-95/I-295, and the Francis Scott Key Bridge on I-695, the toll for five-axle rigs will go from the current $12 to $18 on Jan. 1 2012, and to $24 by July 1, 2013. On the John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway (I-95), The toll will rise from $30 to $36 to $48 for five-axle vehicles.
Toll revenues fund safety, rehabilitation, customer-service and improvement projects statewide, including $132 million in repairs for the Thomas J. Hatem Memorial Bridge (US 40); $121 million in work for the John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway (I-95); $225 million in repairs to the William Preston Lane Jr. Memorial (Bay) Bridge (US 50/301); $410 million in work for the three Baltimore Harbor crossings - the Fort McHenry (I-95, I-395) and Baltimore Harbor (I-895) tunnels and the Francis Scott Key Bridge (I-695); and $21 million in repairs to the Governor Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge (US 301).
In addition, the MDTA is constructing two major projects to address traffic congestion in Maryland. They include the Express Toll Lanes along I-95 in the Baltimore region and the Intercounty Connector in the Washington region.
"The MDTA Board has scaled back projects and reduced expenses to delay an increase in tolls as long as possible," said Louise P. Hoblitzell, senior MDTA Board Member. "However, the time has come when additional revenue is required to keep pace with the cost of constructing and maintaining our facilities."
It has been years, decades in some cases, since the MDTA raised many of its toll rates. Toll rates for vehicles with three or more axles were last raised at all facilities in 2009.
A 60-day public-comment period begins today and continues through 5 p.m. Aug. 1, 2011. The public can submit comments for the official record via a web form at www.mdta.maryland.gov or by writing to MDTA Toll Comments, 2310 Broening Highway, Baltimore, MD 21224.
The MDTA Board also will hold nine public hearings throughout the State to receive public and private testimony on the proposal. The proposal and hearing locations are detailed online at www.mdta.maryland.gov.