Reporting Mike Schuh
QUEEN ANNE’S COUNTY, Md. (WJZ)—Anger is growing about plans to drastically raise tolls at the Bay Bridge and other locations across the state. Some lawmakers say it will hurt families and businesses.
Mike Schuh has more on the opposition.
Folks over the Bay Bridge don’t call the toll a toll; they call it a tax. They say implementation of it could have severe impacts.
While waiting in line to get some of the best fried chicken in Maryland, Kim Wingo has time to reflect on what is being asked of her. The state wants to double the Bay Bridge toll to $5 and then to $8.
“If they’d work better on their budget and maybe cut back their spending, I think it would be a lot easier for people to make it,” said Wingo, an Eastern Shore resident.
Restaurant owners don’t know what is going to happen to their budget if people don’t travel over the bridge to come and eat.
Karen Oertedl owns Harris Crab House.
“I’d say a third of the market comes from the western shore,” Oertedl said.
Some of them get across the bridge because they rode with Robert Spindler. His business is to drive people with phobias across the bridge 4,000 times a year, which may soon mean $9,000 out of his pocket.
“I’ll be losing money, especially with the fuel prices going up also. Then the toll on top of it will make it not worth the purpose to get people across the bridge for people who are afraid of it,” said Spindler, Bay Bridge Drive Over.
At a restaurant in the bridge’s shadow, a press conference was held where a U.S. representative says transportation money from the federal government could be in jeopardy because the tolls place an undue burden on rural residents.
“We would be able to say to states in general that, in fact, if you want to receive federal funding at the full amount that you want, then you probably have to demonstrate that you’re taking care of the rural areas also,” said Congressman Andy Harris, (R) First District.
These toll increases are not set in stone. The public gets a crack at it. They can say what they think. We’ve just received a list of preliminary hearings. There will be nine of them. They will start on June 9 and end on June 23.
The state says it will soon publish the exact dates, times and locations of those public hearings.