Maine Turnpike votes to increase tolls for trucks and cars

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 8/3/2012

Cash tolls could soon increase 28-50 percent on the Maine Turnpike, based on a formula that would charge truckers 4.25 times the passenger-vehicle rate. The Turnpike Authority’s board of directors tentatively approved the increases and formula change on Thursday, Aug. 2, but must meet again Aug. 16 to ratify the plan. OOIDA urges truckers to weigh in before the final vote.

The Authority has already held six public hearings about the plan, but turnpike users may still submit comments now that they’ve seen the preferred option and what it means to their bottom lines.

OOIDA planned to issue another Call to Action to members in Maine, who would see the $20 cash toll from Kittery to Augusta increase to $29.75. That equates to about 31.5 cents per mile for commercial vehicles.

The new cash amount is based on a formula for what passenger vehicles pay. Truckers currently pay four times the $5 toll that passenger vehicles pay for a full-length trip. Under the proposal being considered for final approval, the toll for cars would increase to $7 and the truck multiplier would increase to 4.25.

Commercial E-ZPass customers would pay a lower rate, but would still see an increase in fares subject to the 4.25 multiplier.

The Maine Turnpike Authority says the toll increases are necessary to pay off debts and add $21 million to its 30-year maintenance and rehabilitation plan.

Officials say the revenue increase is based on improvements and has nothing to do with past mismanagement or the fact that former Executive Director Paul Violette is serving time for using turnpike funds for personal gain.

The current director, Peter Mills, is a former Republican state senator. He said recently that the agency avoided implementing a larger toll increase by making some cuts and manipulating the timelines for certain roadway improvements.

The agency operates 500 lane miles of roadway along with 177 bridges, 19 interchanges and toll plazas, service areas, maintenance facilities and Troop G of the Maine State Police.

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