Most Maryland tolls increase Nov. 1

Motorists using most Maryland toll bridges, tunnels and highways will pay higher fees starting Tuesday, when a statewide toll increase takes effect.

Cash tolls for cars on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, where passenger vehicles haven’t faced an increase since the 1970s, will rise from $2.50 to $4. The fee to travel on the Gov. Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge in Southern Maryland will go from $3 to $4. E-ZPass commuter rates will rise from 60 cents to $1 for a round trip on the Nice Bridge. The Bay Bridge commuter rate will remain at $1 per round trip until July 2013, when it will increase to $2.10.

Cash tolls for passenger vehicles on both bridges will increase again in July 2013 to $6.

The only exception to the toll increase will be on the Intercounty Connector, where rates will remain the same as those set before the highway’s first segment opened in February. However, the ICC’s $3 fee for vehicles that do not have an E-ZPass transponder will be replaced with a statewide “video toll rate.” The video rate will be charged via a notice in the mail and will be 150 percent of the base toll, with a minimum surcharge of $1 and a maximum of $15 for large trucks.

In the Baltimore area, cash tolls will rise from $2 to $3 at the Key Bridge and the Fort McHenry and Harbor tunnels. Tolls on Interstate 95 between Baltimore and the Delaware state line will rise from $5 to $6 for cash tolls and from 80 cents to $1.50 for commuter rates.

State officials said the rate increases will pay for repairs on bridges and tunnels while paying off debt incurred to finance new construction, including the $2.56 billion ICC under construction between Gaithersburg and Laurel and $1 billion worth of express toll lanes near Baltimore. The full ICC is scheduled to open by Nov. 22.

“It’s not something we wanted to do,” said Harold Bartlett, executive secretary for the Maryland Transportation Authority. “It’s something we had to do.”

State hearings on Maryland’s proposed toll increases were packed in Eastern Shore communities, where some residents who use the Bay Bridge as part of their daily commute said the increases are too steep in a bad economy.

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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