The Maryland Transportation Authority is developing a plan that would raise tolls dramatically for the first time in decades.
The proposed tolls are part of a four-year package of $210 million in increases that would affect the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, the Baltimore Harbor crossings, the John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway and other toll facilities.
The plan discussed before the authority’s finance committee Thursday calls for raising the tolls Oct. 1 this year and July 1, 2013.
The toll on the Bay Bridge would be raised from $2.50 to $5 this year, and $8 in 2013. Tolls on the bridge have been frozen since 1975. Commuter rates would jump to $1.50 in the first phase and $2.80 in the second.
Maryland Transportation Secretary Beverley Swaim-Staley said Thursday that toll increases are unavoidable because of the need to pay bondholders for existing debts and the growing maintenance demands of aging bridges, tunnels and roads.
“They are at an age where they need major rehabilitation, and we need to pay for that rehabilitation,” Swaim-Staley said.
Republican Sen. E.J. Pipkin, R-Cecil, described the proposed increases as “outrageous.” He said they show how “out of touch” Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration is with the average working family.
“Do you think the average family income in Maryland has gone up 300 percent?” Pipkin asked.
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