MassPike officials in the hot seat; math for toll increase questioned

| 10/15/2007

A $6 million miscalculation by the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority has upset officials and a public already skeptical about an upcoming toll increase.

At first, the turnpike authority projected that revenue from a toll increase taking effect Jan. 1, 2008, would bring in an extra $24 million for bridges and highways.

But the authority has acknowledged an error, first reported by the Boston Herald, which places the additional revenue at $30 million.

The $6 million calculation error is prompting some legislators to call for a toll freeze until the matter is cleared up. No legislation had been filed as of press time.

Turnpike authority board members voted Oct. 4 to enact a toll increase of 25 cents or 50 cents per vehicle at certain turnpike interchanges – a measure that includes a truck-toll increase of 25 cents per axle – prior to the error coming to light.

The Herald reported Monday, Oct. 15, that the authority’s consulting firm, URS Corp., will not have its contract renewed next month as punishment for its role in the error.

A MassPike spokesman did not immediately return Land Line’s calls on Monday.

One state lawmaker, Sen. Karen Spilka, D-Ashland, was quoted as saying the state’s finances relating to the toll increase are “up and down like musical chairs.”

– By Land Line staff