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Meeting Held So Drivers Can Discuss Proposed Toll Hike

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The debate is heating up in Maryland over plans to raise tolls along our highways.

Kelly McPherson explains how some people are trying to stop it.

A proposal that would double Maryland tolls over the next two years is angering many drivers.

“The most important class—the working class—goes through those tolls every day.  I think we’re breaking the backbone of America by making these rates so outrageous,” said Mary Holland.

Marylanders are speaking up, hoping to influence the proposed rate increase at an MdTA public hearing.

“When we’re trying to create jobs in this state, anything that you do to raise the barrier and raise the cost of doing business is going to send jobs elsewhere,” said Mike Beczkowski.

Right now, the three Baltimore harbor crossings are $2 and would increase to $3 in the fall and then $4 in July 2013.  The Bay Bridge costs $2.50 to cross and would go up to $5 in October and then to $8 in July 2013.

“We have to rehab these facilities.  They are quite old.  The harbor crossings are 40 to 50 years old.  They require a great deal of maintenance on an ongoing level.  Much, of course, is under water, as well,” said Beverly Swaim-Staley, Maryland Transportation Secretary,

Qualifying commuters would continue to receive deep discounts of about 70 cents off the cash rate.

Many echoed the concern that raising the fees for tractor trailers would trickle down to consumers.

“What you heard them saying, $50, $48 for a tractor-trailer, that all comes down to the working man.  It increases the cost of food, it increases the cost of clothing,” said Brian Lutz.

The state is supposed to take these comments into consideration and make a decision in the next few months.

Anyone can submit input to the state on the toll hikes by clicking here.  The state is considering reaction until Aug. 1.

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