Maryland board expected to approve toll increases Thursday

September 20, 2011

(Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

After frequent users of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and the Gov. Harry W. Nice bridges packed public hearings this summer, state officials lowered the proposed cash toll rates for two-axle vehicles on both bridges to $4 beginning Nov. 1 and $6 starting in July 2013. The state had initially proposed $5 tolls for both beginning in October and $8 in 2013. The cash toll for two-axle vehicles is now $2.50 for the Bay Bridge and $3 for the Nice bridge.

Under the plan , motorists who use the Intercounty Connector without an E-ZPass transponder would pay 150 percent of the base toll. The board had previously considered a 125 percent rate for those without transponders but raised it after reducing proposed toll increases elsewhere in the state, said Cheryl Sparks, a spokeswoman for the authority.

The minimum surcharge for ICC motorists who don’t have an E-ZPass transponder would be $1. That makes it cheaper for those with two-axle vehicles than the current $3 flat additional fee now imposed on those who don’t have a E-ZPass and receive an ICC fee notice in the mail, Sparks said.

Transportation authority officials have said higher tolls are needed to repair aging tunnels, bridges and highways and to pay for the $2.56-billion ICC and $1 billion worth of express toll lanes on Interstate 95 near Baltimore. It would be Maryland’s first statewide toll increase.

State officials also are expected to approve a proposal to waive the monthly $1.50 E-ZPass account fee for people who use Maryland toll facilities three or more times per month.

Katherine Shaver is a transportation and development reporter. She joined The Washington Post in 1997 and has covered crime, courts, education and local government but most prefers writing about how people get — or don’t get — around the Washington region.
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