Maryland drivers may have to pay more in toll fees when they cross bridges and traverse tunnels, reversing a decadelong trend of stagnant pricing.
Toll prices have not been raised since 2011, when the Maryland Transportation Authority voted to increase tolls in two phases. Those took effect in 2011 and 2013.
Drivers then began paying $6 to cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, and $4 at the three Baltimore Harbor crossings. However, former Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, cut toll prices in 2016 and 2019, citing a desire to put money back in taxpayers’ pockets.
Toll revenues may again need to increase, according to Maryland Transportation Authority Executive Director Joseph Sagal, who was appointed to that position last month after serving as the organization’s chief operating officer since February 2022.
Revenues dropped during the pandemic as fewer drivers commuted at the same time that operating costs escalated, Sagal told members of the Maryland Commission on Transportation Revenue and Infrastructure Needs last week.
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The Maryland Transportation Authority is an independent state agency that relies on revenues from its eight toll plazas to operate. It does not receive funding from the state general fund or from the Maryland Department of Transportation’s trust fund, according to Sagal.
Those factors are “triggering a need” to increase toll revenues as the agency plans its six-year financial forecast going into fiscal year 2028, Sagal said.
Currently, it costs $3 for cars with Maryland E-ZPasses to cross any of the three Baltimore Harbor points, and $6 for the standard video rate. It costs $2.50 for E-ZPass Maryland drivers to cross the Bay Bridge, and $6 for the standard video rate.
“As a member of the commission, AAA looks forward to learning more about, and reviewing all possible transportation funding options,” said Ragina Ali, a spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “At this point, it would be premature to comment on which funding recommendations the commission may ultimately make,” she said.
Nicole Monroe, a spokesperson for the MTA, said the 2016 toll reduction had since cost the state more than $500 million in anticipated revenue, contributing to projected deficits across the state transportation system.
“The Maryland Transportation Authority is committed to public engagement and feedback as critical to any future toll-setting process,” she said in an emailed statement. “We will continue to work with the public and all our partners across state government to determine the path that ensures the necessary investment in Maryland’s toll facilities and services.”
Baltimore Sun reporter Dan Belson contributed to this article.