Truckers to make presence felt on Maine toll hikes this week

| 12/1/2008

Truckers are preparing to make their voices heard on the issue of proposed toll increases in Maine.

The Maine Turnpike Authority recently floated a plan to increase tolls by various amounts, which would increase operating revenue by an estimated 23 percent.

Authority officials scheduled public hearings to take place Tuesday, Dec. 2, in Saco, ME, and Wednesday, Dec. 3, in Auburn, ME.

OOIDA issued an information update to Maine members of the Association to attend the meetings and let officials know how toll increases will affect their businesses.

“I plan on being at the meeting in Auburn to at least voice my displeasure at it all,” trucking company owner and OOIDA member Larry Sidelinger told Land Line Magazine.

“This has been a hot button of mine this fall as the difficulties of trucking have continued – even though fuel has dropped – now that there is unbelievable downward pressure on rates and very little freight to haul.”

Sidelinger, owner of Yankee Pride Transport in Nobleboro, ME, said truckers will be hit the hardest because the proposed toll increases are based on percentages of the current rate.

Should an increase of 23 percent be spread across the board among vehicle classes, a full-length toll for a five-axle vehicle traveling from Augusta to Kittery would increase from $16 to $19.68.

Turnpike officials are offering discounts as an incentive to get users to invest in E-ZPass. Local discounts for commuter traffic and volume discounts for large motor carriers are also part of the increase proposal but don’t offer much for owner-operators and small-business truckers.

“What these people at Maine Turnpike don’t seem to realize is this is just another nail in the trucking business and makes business in Maine that much more unfriendly,” Sidelinger said.

– By David Tanner, staff writer