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Bridge toll increase hearing set for Havre de Grace June 27

Maryland Transportation Authority officials were greeted by overwhelming crowds angry about planned bridge toll increases during a five-hour hearing at Perryville High School June 16, and there is still one hearing left in this area.

The MdTA will be in Havre de Grace this Monday night to get more feedback on its proposal to raise tolls on the Susquehanna River bridges and to end the longtime AVI decal discount for residents who travel on the Route 40 Hatem Bridge between Havre de Grace and Perryville.

The agency is still planning to hold the hearing, set to run from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the Havre de Grace Activity Center, 351 Lewis Lane. (A formal presentation and testimony starts at 6 p.m. and registration for public comment closes at 7:45 p.m.)

The estimated attendance at last week's hearing in Perryville was more than 1,000, a number which would be difficult to accommodate at the Activity Center.

At this past Monday's Havre de Grace city council meeting, council members again urged residents to make their voice heard at the Havre de Grace hearing.

Councilman Fred Cullum noted the parking lot at Perryville was overflowing.

"It was packed, so I hope there's that much turnout at this meeting in Havre de Grace as well, because they need to see the citizens are not happy with what they choose to do," he said. "Our main request is to not do away with the AVI stickers. The E-ZPass is not doable and too expensive for many of our residents that would have to use it."

Councilman Bill Martin said again that the toll hikes would exacerbate divisions between Cecil and Harford counties.

"We don't want anything dividing us any further," he said, encouraging residents to be persistent despite possible crowds Monday.

"If you pull in and see 1,000 people in the parking lot, don't pull away. Be 1,001," he said. "When [MdTA] came to Perryville, I think they were blown away…It matters to us here and we're passionate about it here."

Mayor Wayne Dougherty said the toll is clearly a matter of taxation without representation, as MdTA is an appointed body.

"This is a civilian group. They're not accountable to anyone," he said. "Please be there on the 27th to let your feelings be known. Hopefully they heard it in Perryville, but it's extremely important that they keep hearing the same message over and over."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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