"Horrible," as Port Deposit Town Administrator Erika Quesenbery called it, is a pretty accurate description of the proposed increases in the tolls to use the Thomas J. Hatem Memorial Bridge which carries Route 40 across the Susquehanna River.
The Hatem Bridge is as vital as any infrastructure in our communities, particularly Havre de Grace and Perryville, which for generations have served as one. To increase the tolls from $10 per year in 2011 to $72 per year in 2013 is as callous as government gets. We're heartened that area residents showed up to say, as the movie "Network" made famous some years ago, "We're mad as hell and we're not gonna take it any more!"
All of us should be angry. Tolls on the Tydings Bridge on I-95 are not irrelevant, but are of far lesser consequence in the daily lives of the people of Harford and Cecil counties than the Hatem Bridge. While onerous, increasing the tolls on the Tydings Bridge are more palatable than what's proposed for the Hatem Bridge.
The mission of folks in our area should be to keep the Maryland Transportation Authority from being allowed to force these crazy toll increases on the local folks. If they want to raise the tolls sky high for people just passing through, have at it. But there must be a provision that allows local folks to continue using the bridge at a reasonable rate. And $36 per year, the cost proposed for 2012, ain't it.
Sen. Nancy Jacobs has gotten involved, which is a help, but a Republican state senator in Democratic Annapolis can't get as much done as is needed. What's needed is for everyone who agrees the local folks shouldn't be unfairly taxed this way to get involved.
The next opportunity is the public hearing scheduled for Havre de Grace for 6 p.m. Monday at the activity center on Lewis Lane. Be there and make the overflow crowd in Perryville look like a small gathering. Large groups of angry voters is what gets the attention of elected officials and their appointed bureaucrats.
It's time to get the attention of those who don't get that what they're proposing is "horrible."