I know that there have been a lot of discussions and articles in the papers lately about the raise of the tolls, however, I feel it extremely important to continue to keep the matter in the forefront.
It is hard to understand the logic behind the increases. We know full well that tolls are necessary to provide the funds necessary to retire the debt on the facilities and perform certain maintenance on the bridges, tunnels, etc. However, we do not believe the Maryland Transportation Authority has made a case for these increases. Although the Secretary has stated that there is never a good time to raise tolls, I believe this is the worst time with the high cost of gasoline, etc.
As you are probably aware the delegates and I from the 6th District attended the public meeting related to tolls and voiced our strong objections. Although they have reduced some of the proposed increases, the ones which affect the citizens of Southeastern Baltimore County have not been reduced.
The Transportation Authority also increased the commuter fees by as much as 250 percent, placing an enormous burden on people in this area.
I think it is fair to say that everyone in this area who drives is forced to use the toll crossings on a frequent basis. There are parts of the state where people very rarely are required to use toll roads. We feel that it is an unfair burden to place on some of us.
The Transportation Authority reduced the toll on the Bay Bridge, which is used by citizens from all over the state. It will be cheaper to cross the Bay Bridge than commute on the toll crossings in our area.
Another negative impact of this increase is the additional cost on the trucking industry, which most likely will be passed on to consumers.
Because of all of these concerns our local delegation will be introducing emergency legislation at the upcoming Special Session to require approval by the General Assembly and the Governor for any increases in tolls. We feel it is incumbent upon us to continue fighting this issue.
We must convince legislators from around the state that many in our community are forced to use toll facilities daily. We use them to work, shop, attend schools, visit, access day care and many other daily necessities.
Lastly, we would like additional information about what exactly the funds are needed for. What will they be used for? How much is actually needed?
There are many questions that we feel have not been addressed at this time. We have forwarded a letter to the Secretary of Transportation voicing our abjections. I will continue exploring ways to either eliminate or delay this action or provide other relief to those who are forced to use those facilities.
State Sen. Norman R. Stone, Jr. can be reached via email at: email@example.com. His district office is located at 6905 Dunmanway, Baltimore, MD 21222. Phone: (410) 288-5270; fax: (410) 284-2864