Toll protest ends in ticket for city councilman in New Hampshire

| 8/30/2007

Angry residents of Merrimack, NH, staged a slow-moving protest Monday, Aug. 27, on the Everett Turnpike.

The townspeople said they’re upset that the only practical way in and out of their town includes a 50-cent toll on every trip. So, on Monday, the drivers of 142 vehicles made a seven-mile, low-speed loop on the turnpike – and then paid their tolls in pennies.

City Council Chairman David McCray told “Land Line Now” on XM Satellite Radio that state transportation officials in Concord, NH, had approved the protest – but that he was ticketed anyway.

“The state knew we were doing this motorcade, and they knew we would be within 35 to 40 mph because we were trying to keep people together,” McCray said. “From the very beginning, the police were lined up. They saw us go through the whole route. It was seven miles roundtrip. When I pulled off the ramp, there were a total of seven cruisers and a police helicopter waiting for me as I come off.”

McCray said his ticket was for going under the minimum speed of 45 mph on the turnpike. Although he said he respects the job of law enforcement, he believes that someone high up in command was “letting me know who’s boss.”

“They work hard and put their lives on the line everyday. I believe they were given direction. That’s my opinion and we’re all entitled to our opinion,” McCray said.

McCray said others in the protest convoy donated more than enough money for him to pay the $57 ticket.

“They’ve already paid it, and if I do pay it, I’ll pay it in pennies. That’s what I’m going to do on that,” McCray said.

McCray said New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch called immediately following the protest to set up a Sept. 21 meeting to discuss the toll situation.

– By Reed Black, staff writer

Staff Writer David Tanner contributed to this report.