Reporting Gigi Barnett
PERRYVILLE, Md. (WJZ) — The heated debate over proposed toll hikes continues — this time at public hearings to increase tolls.
As Gigi Barnett explains, protesters are particularly upset over the increase on state bridges and tunnels.
This is a battle weeks in the making.
Hundreds of protesters rallied at Perryville High School Thursday evening. Inside was a packed public hearing on the Maryland Transportation Authority’s plan to raise tolls on all state highways.
“I have to equate this board with the Somali pirates. You’ve been holding us hostage for years and it’s time to do away with it,” said one protester.
But most of the people who attended the hearing are from Cecil and Harford counties. They’re especially concerned about the increase along the I-95 and Route 40 bridges spanning the Susquehanna River. They’ll see a fee hike that is more than 60 percent.
“These people feel strongly about this toll increase. If you don’t already know, the federal employees didn’t get a raise this year. We’re not getting a raise next year,” said Cecil County resident Nancy Waltman.
“Fair is fair, and what you’re proposing is not fair,” said a protester.
Some state lawmakers also spoke out against the raises, calling them detrimental to business during a slow economy.
“The proposal that’s here tonight will cost your family an additional $1,000 a year in income. That does not make sense,” said Rep. Andy Harris, (R) Maryland.
“Nobody should be increasing taxes in the middle of a recession. No one,” said a proposal opponent.
Thursday night’s public hearing was one of several scheduled statewide.
The Maryland Transportation Authority’s second public hearing in the area will be on June 27.