After staff studies, six public hearings, review of numerous public communications and open deliberations, the board of the Maine Turnpike Authority announced changes to the Turnpike’s toll structure on Thursday, Aug. 16. The outcome, while still pricey, did not specifically increase the pain on truckers as was anticipated.
“We’d like to thank our Maine members for sending in their concerns to the turnpike authority in response to our Call to Action alerts,” said Norita Taylor, media spokesperson for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. “Tolls are a huge burden on small-business truckers, and it’s critical that trucking users raise strong objections to the threats of increases.”
Truckers currently are saddled with a rate that pays four times the toll that passenger vehicles pay for a full-length trip. It was proposed to raise that even more (4.25), but the board decided to preserve the current “multipliers” for commercial users and keep the current discount system.
Taylor said this means that trucks will continue to pay four times what cars pay. She said the increase will be proportionate to the increase for cars, but not more.
The authority will be raising the cash payment price by 40 percent and adding a penny a mile for EZPass users. The changes will take effect Nov. 1, 2012.
Taylor added that OOIDA believe that tax credits should be made available for fuel already purchased for miles driven on the turnpike.
“Otherwise, paying a toll on top of a fuel tax is double taxation,” she said.
According to the MTA’s announcement, the increases will raise an estimated $21 million annually to continue a 30-year plan to maintain and rehabilitate the MTA’s network of bridges, interchanges and pavement as well as pay off existing debt.
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