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Give residents of Cecil county and the Shore a break on tolls

I read the article written by Michael Dresser "Increases in bridge, tunnel tolls cruel but fair" (June 13) and, although I rarely respond to articles I read in the paper, felt a needed to respond to this one.

I was born and raised in Baltimore City but moved to Cecil County in 1973. I am a huge supporter of the city and its sports teams and always wish the best for it in the eyes of outsiders. However, Mr. Dresser's one-sided view of the proposed toll increases elicited a response. First, residents of the city and the surrounding suburbs have multiple options to skirt around the tunnels, via Eastern Avenue or Route 40 or the beltway. When I lived in the city I always avoided the tolls. People in Cecil County should have the same option via a local road called Route 40 to cross the Susquehanna using Hatem Bridge.

Second, the tolls into Cecil County are an economic detriment to the county and the local residents who must cross the Susquehanna for employment. It harms the housing segment by discouraging the new Aberdeen Proving Ground employees and military personnel from locating in Cecil County. People from the Baltimore area can drive all the way to Florida without incurring any tolls; residents of Cecil County cannot unless they drive out of their way nearly into Pennsylvania to cross the Conowingo Dam.

Third, the toll increases should largely impact drivers moving through the state on I-95 and through the tunnel, not Maryland residents and taxpayers who already provide financial support to the state through multiple taxes and fees, including the registration of their vehicles, and sales taxes each and every time they purchase a vehicle.

I love Baltimore and proudly tell anyone that it is my hometown, but since living in Cecil County I see how the rural counties (and certainly Montgomery and Prince George's do not fit into that category) get the short end of the stick in many ways when it comes to financial support (particularly the schools over the years). I feel it is time that the Eastern Shore constituents be heard, and I want Mr. Dresser and the proposers of the toll increases to hear me.

I support the increases on I-95 and the tunnels, thoroughfares for drivers passing through, and the Bay Bridge increase for those opting to partake in an Ocean City vacation, but leave the Hatem Bridge alone (a local route) and give the lower Eastern Shore residents a break if they need to cross the bay for employment. That's not asking too much. In my mind even Marylanders who use I-95 and the tunnels should be able to get a break on the tolls. There are enough people using I-95 and the tunnel to pass through Maryland that increases in their tolls should be the means to gather the revenue needed to support these transportation options.

Robert C. Hittel

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