Town officials in New Hampshire call for toll revolt

| 7/30/2007

Town officials in Merrimack, NH, are calling for a toll revolt on Aug. 27 that includes asking residents to pay their tolls in pennies.

Members of the Merrimack Town Council voted unanimously last week to organize “Toll Revolt Day” the last Monday in August. They are upset after learning state legislators had stripped their power to give local discounts on the F.E. Everett Turnpike.

The organizers want state lawmakers to restore discounts for local residents, and paying in pennies will draw attention, Town Council Member Nancy Harrington told “Land Line Now” on XM Satellite Radio.

“It’s more symbolic than anything else,” Harrington said.

The turnpike, operated by the New Hampshire Turnpike Authority, has three interchanges within the town of Merrimack, population 28,000. Tolls are 50 cents each way per vehicle to come and go.

“The town feels as if it’s being additionally taxed,” Harrington said. “There is no other town in the state of New Hampshire that has this configuration of toll booths.”

She said the electronic toll collection system, E-ZPass – while offering a discount compared to the cash rate – does not offer the same discount that the New Hampshire Turnpike Authority used to have when it used tokens.

The Town Council voted unanimously to promote the toll revolt.

“Some people say it’s an adolescent act,” Harrington said. “Well, OK. What do we have to lose? At least we’ve done something, even if we all we do is annoy them.”

An official with the New Hampshire Department of Transportation confirmed that cash toll booths in the state do indeed accept pennies.

– By David Tanner, staff writer

Staff Writer Reed Black contributed to this story.