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Toll Increases Take Effect Next Week

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Commuters, get ready to pay more. Those much-hated toll increases on state highways, bridges and tunnels take effect one week from Tuesday.

But, as political reporter Pat Warren points out, a Baltimore County lawmaker wants to shake things up.

Suzie Hawkins paid for an E-ZPass Monday, rather than the extra dollar it will cost for each trip through the Fort McHenry and Harbor tunnels.

“Especially with the gas prices going back up on the rise again, it’s really rough,” Hawkins said.

Maryland resident Jim Weglein bought his E-ZPass in Pennsylvania.

“It’s cheaper. It’s a cheaper administrative fee, so why should I bother with Maryland?” he said.

That’s the kind of pushback toll increases are generating.

“It’s horrible,” said one driver.

Effective Nov. 1, the tolls for the tunnels and Key Bridge go up from $2 to $3 in cash and the E-ZPass discount goes up by 75 cents. On the Bay Bridge, the rate goes up from $2.50 to $4 in cash but the E-ZPass rate stays the same until July 2013.

State Senator Norman Stone says the Transportation Authority was unfair when it scaled back some hikes on the Bay Bridge but not the tunnel crossings.

“It’s gonna make it rougher for folks like myself who have to use the tunnels and the bridges all the time,” Stone said.

Stone introduced a bill last week in the special session to require legislative approval for toll increases. Right now, the Transportation Authority gets first and final say. That bill got no hearing but he’ll bring it back next year.

Drivers may have already adjusted to the increases by the time the General Assembly convenes in January and a gas hike proposal already promises to take a bigger toll on drivers than the bridge and tunnel crossings.

The Transportation Authority expects to gain $90 million in the first year of the toll increases.

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