Tolls will soon double on some Maryland highways as officials approved a statewide increase Thursday to confront deteriorating and congested roads and bridges, and a lack of money to pay for improvements.
The Maryland Transportation Authority, grappling with what has become a national problem, said the toll hikes were necessary to offset declining revenue and to pay off debt. The authority board voted unanimously for the package of increases that will affect every toll facility in the state, from Interstate 95 to the Intercounty Connector, with the first increases taking effect Nov. 1.
As part of the package, the transportation authority raised cash tolls for cars on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge from $2.50 to $4 and on the Gov. Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge in Southern Maryland from $3 to $4. Tolls on both bridges will rise again in July 2013 to $6.
Tolls on some facilities, such as the Bay Bridge, had not increased for passenger vehicles since the 1970s, Maryland officials said.
Like many states, Maryland has already deferred hundreds of millions of dollars worth of transportation projects in recent years and cut back road maintenance because of a lack of money. Lawmakers have repeatedly declined to raise the state gas tax, and Congress is expected to make significant cuts in federal transportation money to states as it struggles to pass new long-term funding legislation.