Maine Turnpike set to ratify toll increases on trucks and cars

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 8/14/2012

Last chance to speak up on a proposal that would charge trucks and cars 28-50 percent more to run the Maine Turnpike. The turnpike board meets on Thursday, Aug. 16, to ratify a plan that board members tentatively approved last week.

OOIDA issued a call to action on Aug. 6, calling on truckers in Maine to voice their concerns. Under the plan, the current $20 cash toll from Kittery to Augusta would increase to $29.75. That would make the trip 31.5 cents per mile for commercial vehicles.

The new cash amount sought by the Turnpike Authority is based on a formula for what passenger vehicles pay. Truckers currently are saddled with a rate that pays four times the $5 toll that passenger vehicles pay for a full-length trip. Under the proposal being considered for final approval, the toll for cars would increase to $7 and the so-called “multiplier” for trucks would increase to 4.25.

Commercial E-ZPass customers would pay a lower rate, but would still see an increase in fares subject to the 4.25 multiplier.

Turnpike officials say the increase is needed to help refinance existing debts, pay for bridge repairs and pavement and interchange improvements during the next five years. Apparently, they couldn’t care less what happens to truckers forced to foot the bill.

OOIDA encourages members to make comments on the issue. Among the most important points to make to officials is the enormous burden an increase will put on small businesses. In addition, tax credits should be made available to truckers for fuel already purchased to run on the turnpike.

Maine Turnpike Authority board member Robert Stone recently told “Land Line Now” that he sides with truckers on the issue. Stone voted against the proposal during the first round of votes on Aug. 2.

“I was particularly concerned about the commercial vehicles,” Stone said. “The Maine Turnpike is such an economic artery into the state, you can’t mess with it.”

“Land Line Now” Staff Reporter Reed Black contributed to this report.

See related story:
Maine Turnpike votes to increase tolls for trucks and cars

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