Maine Turnpike board gives final approval to raise tolls

The Maine Turnpike Authority board unanimously approved a plan to increase tolls on the highway that will up the typical toll for commercial trucks from the current rate of $20 for a cash trip from York to Augusta to $28.

Although any increase to truckers’ cost of operation is bad, the Maine Turnpike toll hike isn’t as bad as it could have been, said the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Assn. (OOIDA).

According to Norita Taylor, OOIDA media spokesperson, the turnpike authority had originally planned to up the toll increase to truckers even more. However, protests from OOIDA members driven by an association Call to Action caused the board to reconsider and keep trucker toll increases on par with those to other motorists.

“We’d like to thank our Maine members for sending in their concerns to the turnpike authority in response to our Call to Action alerts,” said Taylor. “Tolls are a huge burden on small-business truckers, and it’s critical that trucking users raise strong objections to the threats of increases.”

Truckers currently pay four times the toll that other motorists pay to use the turnpike and the toll authority had planned to increase the difference in tolls to truckers by 4.25%. After protests from truckers, the board decided to preserve the current multipliers for commercial users so the current increase to truckers represents a rate four times that of cars.

Taylor said that although it is still an increase, at least it remains proportionate to the increase for cars, not more.

With the new rates — the full-length cash trip from York to Augusta will increase from $5 to $7 while the most-common cash toll for a standard commercial truck (Class 5) will rise from $20 to $28. The increase will be applied to all vehicle classes. Even after the toll increase the Turnpike will remain among the lowest priced toll roads in the U.S., MTA officials said in an announcement.

The increases are expected to bring in an additional $21.14 million in toll revenue that the toll authority will use to continue a 30-year plan to maintain and rehabilitate the turnpike’s network of bridges, interchanges and pavement and well as pay off existing debt. The new toll plan goes into effect Nov. 1, 2012.

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