A hearing in Gaithersburg on Thursday evening will be the first of nine on the Maryland Transportation Authority’s plan to raise tolls on the state’s bridge, tunnel and highways.
Testimony is from 6 to 8 p.m. at all the sessions. The one in Gaithersburg will be at Shady Grove Middle School, 8100 Midcounty Hwy. Other hearings in the D.C. region are set for Tuesday in Beltsville, at High Point High School, 3601 Powder Mill Rd., and on June 20 in Arnold, at Severn River Middle School, 241 Peninsula Farm Rd.
If approved by the authority’s board this summer, the increases would affect drivers who travel on such state facilities as the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. There, two-axle cars, now charged $2.50 round trip, would pay $5 starting Oct. 1 and $8 beginning in July 2013.
The statewide plan includes a break for drivers with E-ZPass. At the Bay Bridge, they would pay $4.50 in October and $7.20 in July 2013.
Tolls for daily Bay Bridge commuters driving two-axle vehicles would increase from $1 round-trip to $1.50 on Oct. 1 and to $2.80 in July 2013.
The authority’s plan would not affect drivers who use E-ZPass to pay the toll on the new Intercounty Connector. It would affect the current $3 surcharge for drivers who don’t use E-ZPass, and instead pay a bill the state mails to them after taking a photo of their license plates at the toll gantry. That flat fee would be replaced with a new fee the authority calls a “video toll rate.” It would be 25 percent higher than the current toll rate ranges for the variable-toll connector.
In addition to testifying at any of the nine hearings, the public may submit comments for the record by 5 p.m. Aug. 1 by going to the authority’s Web site at www.mdta.maryland.gov or writing to MDTA Toll Comment, 2310 Broening Hwy., Baltimore, MD, 21224.