“The toll hike unfairly impacts working people in western Maine,” said Rep. Mike Carey, D-Lewiston. “A laborer from Auburn who works on Cousins Island shouldn’t have to pay seven dollars a day to drive less than 30 miles to work.”
Democratic state lawmakers in Lewiston and Auburn today announced they would launch a petition and submit legislation to stop a proposed toll hike on the Maine Turnpike. The lawmakers say the hike unfairly penalizes commuters in Western Maine.
Rep. Carey added, “It’s outrageous that western Maine travelers are being asked to pay even more to go the same distance as those in southern Maine. It’s unfair and wrong.”
Rep. Peggy Rotundo, D-Lewiston said she planned to submit a bill to ensure any toll increase was first considered by the legislature.
“It’s not right to put the entire burden on people in western Maine,” said Rotundo. “No toll increase should occur without a fair legislative review.”
The full chart of proposed toll increases can be found at the following link: www.maineturnpike.com/MaineTurnpike/media/PDF/Toll-Increase-Option-7-Class-1-Cash.pdf <http://www.maineturnpike.com/MaineTurnpike/media/PDF/Toll-Increase-Option-7-Class-1-Cash.pdf> .
The petition <http://signon.org/sign/stop-the-western-maine?source=c.em.cp&r_by=481675> calls on the Maine Turnpike Authority to halt the hike. It asks for any toll increase to be considered by the full legislature in January.
The lawmakers plan to submit several bills for the next legislative session in January to ensure that the cost of maintaining Maine’s roads and bridges are shared fairly among all Maine people not just those living and working in Western Maine section of the state.
Rep. Mike Lajoie, D-Lewiston said he would file a “Good-For-the-Goose-Good-for-The-Gander Act” to equalize toll taxes between I-295 and I-95.
“Whether a Maine driver pays his fair share for road maintenance should not depend upon his address,” said Lajoie.
Rep. Brian Bolduc, D-Auburn, planned to submit a bill that would study the impact of higher tolls on workers, business and economic development in western Maine.
Senator Margaret Craven, D-Androscoggin made a request for the government oversight body to review the Turnpike Authority’s proposal.
“Given the past problems with the Turnpike Authority and the level of inefficiency we discovered, I am very surprised that any increase is being called for,” said Craven. “The proposed increase seems to be excessive and improperly arranged so that it will have a serious detrimental effect on the workers from western Maine who commute along the Turnpike and on economic development in western Maine in general.”
Carey also submitted legislation to abolish the Maine Turnpike Authority and consolidate it under the State’s Department of Transportation.