Battle Intensifies Over Increased Highway Tolls

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Not backing down. The battle is intensifying over plans to raise area highway tolls. Some communities are now taking on the state, saying they just won’t have it.

Weijia Jiang explains what some are doing to try to stop it.

Maryland drivers like Bubba Morris are angry.

“This is really a slap in the face for everyone up here,” said Joe “Bubba” Morris, of Perryville.

And they’re pushing back, waging a war on Maryland’s proposed toll hikes over the Route 40 and I-95 bridges.

Local governments are siding with taxpayers.

This week, the Harford County Council unanimously passed a resolution denouncing the increase.

“I could drive in my car to Key West, Fla. and not pay one penny in tolls. That’s just not fair,” said David Craig, Harford Co. Executive.

At the center of the toll fight is the Thomas Hatem Bridge, which connects Harford and Cecil counties.

Currently drivers pay $10 a year for a decal that permits unlimited trips. The MDTA wants to raise that to $36 in October, and then $72 in 2013.

It’s not just the amount of money outraging these communities. It’s where the cash would go. Many say they feel they’re being targeted to raise funds for the state, funds they may never see again.

In fact, the resolution reads the increase would produce regional disparity, create a significant local burden, disproportionately cause harm to those who rely on the bridge, including businesses on both sides of it.

“It would hurt us a lot,” said Shirley Patterson, Lindy’s Market.

People are on fixed income and they just can’t afford to do it.

At public hearings and several rallies, residents are sending the message they don’t plan to lose this battle.

“They’ll just walk all over you if you don’t stand up for yourself,” Morris said.

If passed, the cost to cross the Bay Bridge would double.

  • JJ

    Hey guess what folks, the state is most likely printing the signs for the new tolls as we speak! Are you all that stupid! Here we go again! ITS A DONE DEAL! IT SUCKS TO BE YOU THAT USES THE TOLLS! And the media and politicans love this because it is just PR. “were going to sue the state” come on give me a break!

  • KottaMan

    An uprising approacheth, me thinks. We are tired of being taxed, fee’d, and generally f’d to death.

  • dave

    ummm…..where in this report did you read, “we’re going to sue the state”????

    • JJ

      Sen. Jacobs (R) Harford County last NEWS BLITZ! Bla Bla Bla, its just a great dog and poney show for the politicians! Everybody is geting worked up for NOTHING! FOLKS THE TOLLS ARE GOING UP AND YOU CAN’T DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT! ITS A DONE DEAL!!!!

      • overtaxed

        We are getting worked up because we keep getting $crewed by Maryland Democrats, and if you simply lay down and be a wimp like yourself, nothing will ever change.

        BTW, its “pony”

  • Steven Cville

    Get what you VOTED For! Remember O’Malley running ads doing the elections that said hey Bob E. a Fee is a Tax! HaHA HaHA The Legislature wants more more more , wait till they raise the Gas tax coming soon to all.
    Sure they need money for the transportation fund, they have raided it of almost one billion dollars to cover their spending elsewhere to balance things. The toll money is not going to stay in the transportation fund and neither is the Gas tax increase and the only reason they need it now is because they stole it once and will do it again.
    Maryland run by the people who have a lot (Montgomery County) and those with their hands out (Baltimore City, Prince Georges County) the rest just pay the bills!

    • candace

      You are misinformed. The monies collected from the tolls in Maryland do not go into a general “transportation fund”. The Maryland Transportation Authority, the agency that governs all tolled roads in Maryland, is a self funded agency; it neither contributes money to or receives money from the general fund of Maryland. The monies collected from tolls go directly to the maintenance of current facilities as well as the engineering and construction of new facilities. Because it is a self funded agency it also does not receive monies from the general fund and thus relies upon the tolls collected to maintain the tolled roadways. Many of the tolls in Maryland have not been increased over the years to compensate for rising maintenance costs due to inflation.
      I am not an O’Malley supporter; however, I can say that he does not have any direct influence on this toll increase. The MDTA can increase tolls without the concurrence or approval of any governing bod7(ies)

      • overtaxed

        Same canned comment every time this article is posted.

        The funds have been raided, unless you have proof to the contrary.

        This needs to be investigated, but the Culture of Corruption will not allow an investigation or the truth on where the money went.

        Where has all of the toll money gone?

        You must work for O’Malley to be spreading propoganda like that.

  • Annie Wheeler

    Too bad the reporter didn’t do her homework. It’s not $10 to $36 and then to $72 …there is an $18 a year maintenance fee for having EZ Pass. So it’s actually $10 to $54…a 540 percent raise…then in 2013 it will cost $90…a 900 percent increase over what we pay now. AND $21 to get the transponder…
    And it’s to pay for the ICC in Montgomery County…the eight richest county in the whole country with a per capita income twice that of Harford or Cecil County.
    The ICC will cost 2 and a half times what it will cost to do all the maintenance and work on all the bridges and tunnels in the state that are getting the raises.
    When will the Governor learn that higher taxes in any form will only hurt Marylanders.

    • Steve

      Unfortunately Annie, Owe’Failure will never get it. Whatever he dreams up, he expects us to go ahead and pay for willingly and without comment. After all, with a huge democratic voter base in Maryland, I guess he figures most of the sheeple would just go along with it.

    • Ang

      what does an easy pass have to do with the Hatum Bridge? You do not need an easy pass to cross this bridge, just cash or a 10 dollar decal that the writer speaks of. They are considering taking the price of this decal up twice and the writer has the details correct. I find it funny when someone comes on and criticizes others when they in fact are the one that is wrong.


    Who are these ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES representing? The PEOPLE of this Great State have spoken, do any of the “ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES” have ears???

  • Eve Hassett

    Wasn’t it O”Malley that campaigned that Erlich raised taxes and called them fees. Isn’t he doing the same thing? Fees for this and fees for that. But they are not taxes! Why I was surprised when we got our property tax bill and there was a sewer fee that nearly doubled our tax bill. Isn’t that a fee? It’s getting so that you can’t live in Maryland anymore.
    Thought government was supposed to work for us, not against us. We tell our representatives that we do not want these increases, yet they pass any way. What happen to government for the people? Government is only out there to make the rich richer. We poor middle class folks haven’t a chance.
    At least I know I didn’t vote for him!

  • ray

    The folks that use the Hatem Bridge have been getting a sweatheart deal for years now. Ten dollars for unlimited trips?! WOW Now they must eventually pay 72 dollars a year? And they CRY AND COMPLAIN , UNREAL. I use the Bay Bridge everyday and would love to pay 72 dollars per year. How can I get the same deal? Sounds like preferential treatment. Are you people in Cecil and Harford Counties special?.
    How do you think Eastern Shore residents that travel the Bay Bridge everyday feel??

    • JJ

      There is somebody with some common sense out there! THANKS RAY! Bla Bla Bla here we go again, Harford and Cecil County cry the blues, you people got away with the AVI stickers for years and years! Reality has caught up to you people. SUCKS TO BE YOU!

      • Realist

        No JJ, I think it sucks to be you, as a matter of fact, I’m sure it does.

      • JJ

        Please, I DON’T CARE because I don’t use the tolls. SO IT SUCK TO BE YOU! YOUR THE ONE PAYING NOT ME! Ha Ha Ha! I wish I had as much free time as some of the stupid people to get worked up for somthing that is a DONE DEAL!

      • overtaxed

        Really? You don’t care?

        Your posts suggest otherwise.

        Face the facts…tolls have been collected, the money has not gone to the purpose it was supposed to. Where did it go? We deserve to know why they are stealing from us.

        If someone in private industry “misappropriates” money they get charged with embezzlement, when politicians do it they get re-elected.

    • the edge

      Not all residents of Harford county use that bridge.Most of us travel south and use the tunnels and key bridge.

    • Ang

      Ray, you don’t need to come on here putting down the people of my county. You choose to drive over the Bay Bridge everyday and it is a very large bridge getting you from one side of the state to the other. It is saving you from riding up into Delaware and around. The Bay Bridge is a totally different story from the Hatum Bridge and the bridge you travel everyday needs a toll. People are complaining about the Hatum Bridge because it is an insignificant small bridge that is not really any larger then going on a highway overpass. It costs nowhere near the same money to maintain so you can not even compare the two. If you don’t like the Bay Bridge fee then don’t use the bridge. I find it funny you complain about the people of Harford and Cecil counties while at the same time you are complaining yourself

  • Ex-Democrat

    Do you people think the pointed ear teflon leprechaun, Miller and Busch care about the people? The only thing they are thinking about, is how to steal more of our money. It’s not a TAX it’s a FEE.

  • Debbie

    Our elected officials have “raided” the transportation fund and now expect the citizens to make up for their poor judgement. Remember at election time that you voted for those who show little concern for your needs and are just interested in getting every dime out of your pocket to fund their spending. The only thing that will speak for us is our votes. VOTE for change in the next election. What have you got to lose> Your pockets are already empty with this bunch in office.

  • Tom

    It would be nice if the media reported that the main issue is that there are NO other alternatives to get across the river that are not an hour detour to the Conowingo Dam. No other toll facilities service local communities and require a toll. Even the Bay Bridge, which is the closest comparison, does not link local communities for life services like hospitals, doctors, dentist, grocery stores, gas stations, etc.

    • overtaxed

      The “media” such as WJZ are out to protect thier Party, they will omit facts to protect theri precious Democrats.

      Keep blindly voting democratic and this is exactly what we will get

    • chearts77

      Exactly, Tom!! That is the issue. I live in Cecil County. My kids ped doctor is in Havre de Grace. I have to drive over the bridge to get to them. The closest hospital to us is Harford Memorial. In emergency situations, that’s where we go. The closest grocery store to us for the longest time before the Food Lion was built in Perryville was in Havre de Grace. It’s a community that is linked together by a bridge.

    • Ray

      Don’t you idiots think a job is just as important as your LIFE SERVICES, If I don’t cross the Bay Bridge to go to work, I have no money for hospitals, groceries or gas! What is your definition of linking local communities? You CLOWNS have been SPOILED for way too long!

      • Amazed...

        Ray, when you chose to live on one side of the bridge and work on another, you were fully aware of the cost to use the bridge. Wouldn’t you be upset if the cost were now multiplied by 9? The communities of Havre de Grace and Perryville have been intertwined since the days of the ferry crossings. The Hatem Bridge replaced an old railroad bridge that had been re-tasked for car traffic. The Hatem Bridge is over 70 years old and has been paid for multiple times by generations of locals in these communities. The MTA didn’t exist when this bridge was built. These folks are happy to pay to maintain the bridge, the issue here is that they’re being told they are an ATM for the MTA to fund projects wherever they see fit. There is also the added irritant of the EZ-Pass bogus “administration” fee. Also, this is not a bridge or tunnel near a metro center where there are convenient alternatives.

  • Larr

    If the State will not listen, then perhaps a petition can be gotten up like the petition to keep the illegals from getting State Tutition whether they live in Maryland or not. and force it on a ballot. The State has mismanaged funds for years. Millions of dollars have been raised by the State for the tolls on the bridges. Where has this money gone. One of the representatives on the Eastern Shore, Pipkin has asked the Transporation Department for an accounting on the monies collected and where the money has gone. Guess what, they have not given him the informaiton requested.

  • OweMalley-Loves-Your-Money

    The increase in tolls would be worth it, if it was going towards paying to ship all the flaming liberals out of Maryland.

    • ray

      You are absolutely right. Maybe if we get rid of the liberals we might be in better shape

  • Car less

    Maryland is not New York! New York as we all know has tons of high toll roads, but as well they have all kinds of transportation alternatives, subways, cabs galore, buses, trams ferry’s , trains, and Maryland has some of this stuff also, but not at the scale of New York. I could see the increase if there were plenty of alternatives. As of now, the only alternative is to suck it up! And after paying a mortgage, for so many years expecting increases, but smaller incremental ones, not this GOUGING!!! This will force some to leave the state, and that in the long run will hurt Maryland. But hey what do i know. I live here and refuse to own a car any longer, after the ridiculous prices at the pump. They are just trying to imitate New York, and they dont have nearly the amount of attractions.

    • ja

      well said car less

  • Steve

    The transportation trust fund has been raided over several years to pay for entitlement programs and the welfare system. In actuality, the bridges and transportation system had more than enough money to pay for the needs of the systems such as road maintenance, painting, and rust removal. The fund was actually showing a huge surplus until a few years ago when the Gov decided to start tapping in to it to help balance the budget. Of course, as normally happens in Maryland politics, they kept tapping in to it until they drained it dry and now are crying about it being empty, expecting us to pick up the slack. Democrats spend, then ask for more when they’ve spent all they have.

  • ja

    the state is losing face..20 yrs ago I said the state would be bankrupt years by now and the polititans and government are doing an outstanding job of taxes and fees and putting it on the citizens. How much more are you people going to take from workers….why dont you take a look at the Wellfare people and see how much is being abused…there is a pretty penny of waste there I am sure….people would rather collect wellfare the work..its easy…they lie and cheat, no problem but be a person that truly needs it and they will never get it…..
    wake government state and federal…you are killiing the middle and low imcome.

  • Robert Long

    The only reason this is going on is because O’Mally wasted 3.6+ Billion doller’s building the ICC and no one use’s it at all. So now they need money fast and they are going to rob everyone at gun point pretty much to do so. This isnt just about another rate that is going up. It’s about O’Mally and his Tax Tax’s With A New Tax For Paying A Tax Tax. Soon he will start a being black in baltimore county tax. Or being white in the city tax. Or hey how about. Breathing our state air tax. Whats next O’Mally? We really need to recall him out of office! he has done nothing but wreck this state with everything from illegal’s to tax’s to blowing the budgets on things that dont need to be messed with!

    • two

      you have a state air tax and its called emissions testing

  • Busa Boy

    I got the license plate mounted up under the rear fender of my custom 2009 Suzuki Hayabusa for better aero dynamics, I might just go right thru the ez-pass lane and never hear another word. That one way to save some money. They are just going to get a picture of my fast awsome bike and have no clue who it is.

    • Ha Ha Hee Hee

      How bout them Toll Facility Toll Cops, will they catch you on your bike?

  • Car less

    Maryland is not New York! New York as we all know has tons of high toll roads, but as well they have all kinds of transportation alternatives, subways, cabs galore, buses, trams ferry’s , trains, and Maryland has some of this stuff also, but not at the scale of New York. I could see the increase if there were plenty of alternatives. As of now, the only alternative is to suck it up! And after paying a mortgage, for so many years expecting increases, but smaller incremental ones, not this GOUGING!!! This will force some to leave the state, and that in the long run will hurt Maryland. But hey what do i know. I live here and refuse to own a car any longer, after the ridiculous prices at the pump. They are just trying to imitate New York, and they dont have nearly the amount of attractions.

  • State Roundup, July 15, 2011 | Maryland News & Things to Do Blog

    […] WJZ’s Weijia Jiang reports on how others statewide are objecting to the proposed increases. […]

  • two

    Your in a republican county!I,am sure he wanted to tax you more…

  • ray

    How long will it be, before Exelon realizes they are also missing out on the tolls for the increase traffic over the Dam.. Or do they just raise the rates for everyone to cover the maintenance costs. I already bypass the $4.00 toll each way in DE by going another 3 miles to go around. That’s a savings of $8.00 a day or over $2,000 year.
    I think we should start listing toll bypass routes on the internet. DE toll bypass- Take exit 109b to Newark, turn on Otts Chappel RD. Turn on Iron hill to 896, back to 95. 3 miles and savings of $4.00 each way.

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