Maryland increases tolls as truckers call for relief

| 2/6/2009

Truckers and trucking associations are still hoping a flood of appeals to the governor and other lawmakers will stave off a 50 percent toll increase in Maryland.

Turnpike officials voted Jan. 29 to increase rates starting May 1.

It means that truckers will pay $12 instead of $8 at the Fort McHenry Tunnel and $30 instead of $20 at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway Bridge on Interstate 95.

Rates for four-wheelers will remain unchanged under the proposal.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and other trucking groups are urging members to contact Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and get state lawmakers involved.

The Maryland Motor Truck Association is suggesting that the toll increases be phased in over time.
“I am going to encourage our members and our owner-operators and company owners to appeal to the governor and appeal to our General Assembly to require the authority to reconsider their decision before May 1 and see if we can get some concession on splitting the impact of this rate hike over a six- to 12-month period instead of putting it all on at once on May 1,” Maryland Motor Truck President Anne Ferro told Land Line Now on XM Satellite Radio.

She said the authority board carried out the increases without compromising or acknowledging that truckers are feeling the effects of a downturned economy.

“They are certain they will lose a significant part of their business to carriers from other sections of the state or other sections of the country because they will lose that penny on the dollar,” Ferro said.

“Will some lose their whole operation?” Ferro asked. “It’s possible that some of them will, and it’s also possible that some distribution centers or manufacturing centers might shift the focus of their production to a neighboring state because the rates get too expensive to have someone come down and haul for them.”

– By David Tanner, staff writer

Staff Reporter Reed Black contributed to this report.