The Maryland Transportation Authority is planning more toll increases for the near future. The latest is a backdoor increase by eliminating all of the cash collection tolls and replacing them with video tolling. A snapshot of your license plate is taken and the bill is sent to the registered owner of the vehicle. The cost? For those that don't have a commuter Hatem Bridge EZ Pass, the toll is currently $8 for two axles. By eliminating the cash payment option, the only way to pay for those without an EZ Pass would be through video tolling costing an additional 150 percent of the base rate, or $12. MdTA claimed recently that there will be no "extra fee" for video tolling. However, they failed to mention their creative formula that resulted in 50 percent higher cost.
Another revenue generator for the MdTA which was passed during the 2013 Maryland General Assembly session was a new toll billing method. If you do not pay your toll bill within 30 days, a $50 fee is tacked on for each violation. After enough violations, the Motor Vehicle Administration could suspend your license until your bill is paid. The new law also gives the MdTA authority to negotiate with adjoining states for collection or suspension of tags.
Because of the misrepresentation of facts at Cecil County's Annual Transportation Meeting on the charge for video tolling, I requested a meeting with MdTA officials to discuss. A meeting has been scheduled for Dec. 3 at the council's 9 a.m. work session.
In addition, MdTA is required to schedule public meetings in the near future. I hope many citizens from Cecil and Harford County share their personal stories of how the current increases have had a negative impact on their businesses, that the elimination of the cash toll will create an even larger obstacle to overcome in attracting new business as well as visitors, and ask when is this highway robbery going to end?
Diana Broomell, Elkton
The writer represents District 4 on the Cecil County Council.
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