Big Dig costs could outgrow scheduled toll increases

| 8/20/2007

Toll increases within the Massachusetts Turnpike system could outgrow what officials outlined in plans for the costly Big Dig project.

The Big Dig, also known as the Central Artery/Tunnel Project, has cost $14.6 billion so far and the need to repair water leaks could push the cost up even further.

A Massachusetts Turnpike Commission spokesman said tolls are scheduled to increase in January 2008, but officials are still trying to determine the amount.

Despite media reports this past week that two toll booths within the Boston city limits would be the only ones to have rate increases, specific toll increases for specific interchanges have not been determined, Turnpike spokesman Mac Daniel told Land Line.

“A decision was made in the 1990s to tap the revenue of the Massachusetts Turnpike to fund the Big Dig,” Daniel said. “This decision has led to a series of mandated toll increases to fund bonds to finance the completion of the project and future capital costs.”

Daniel said turnpike officials are currently crunching the numbers and will schedule public hearings when a determination is made.

“But as of now, the exact amount of the toll increase to fulfill these bond obligations has not been determined,” he said.

Currently, truck tolls vary depending on the roadway, tunnel, bridge, truck weight, number of axles and distance traveled. Click here to view the truck-tolls calculator.

– By David Tanner, staff writer