A bill proposed by Rep. Lydia Blume, D-York, to require the Maine Turnpike Authority, or MTA, to use all electronic toll collection technology, or AET, at new and rebuilt toll facilities, was approved for consideration during the next legislative session by the Legislative Council Thursday.
“I am thrilled that the public and the Legislature will have a chance to weigh-in on this very important issue,” Blume said. “AET is the best current toll technology and other states are adopting it. We must adopt it to let all who drive on the turnpike travel as safely and efficiently as possible.”
The bill, An Act to Increase Safety, Ensure Efficiency and Improve Traffic Flow on the Maine Turnpike by Requiring All Electronic Toll Collection, would eventually make high-speed, drive-through toll collection the norm at all toll facilities in Maine. A growing number of states are moving to eliminate traditional, manned toll plazas in favor of all-electronic systems, including Massachusetts, which eliminated cash-taking altogether on the Massachusetts Turnpike last year. New Hampshire has a similar bill pending in their Legislature.
“The experience of other states using AET has shown that it is safer, has less impact on the environment and it is less expensive to build and operate than traditional toll facilities,” Blume said.
During even-numbered years, the Legislature limits bill submissions to those that address emergencies and other pressing situations. The Legislative Council, which is made up of each party’s leaders in the Maine House and Senate, decides which bills fit the criteria.
The bill was deemed an emergency because the MTA is planning to build a new facility in York without fully incorporating AET. The bill will be considered by the full Legislature when they reconvene in January.
Blume is serving her second term in the House and represents the coastal part of York. She serves on the Legislature’s Marine Resources Committee and the Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee.