Posted in: Travel,
by Patrick DeHaan on Aug 8, 2013 11:00 AM
Motorists in Massachusetts- beware. Under a new transportation bill passed, the state DOT will bring back tolls for passenger vehicles on the west end of the turnpike, from New York to the I-6 interchange near Chicopee.
Not only that, but the law also pushes MassDOT to examine and report on building even more tolls on the state's borders with the idea of tolling mainly interstate traffic.
I-6 has been untolled since then Gov. Weld ordered the tolling to cease in July of 1996, amid the Big Dig project, which would have been a recipient of tolling money.
Governor Patrick recently vetoed transportation bills that didn't address what alternative revenues there would be when $150m/year or so of toll revenues is lost in 2017. But his vetoes were over-ridden by large majorities of legislators (125-33 and 35-5) who say a decision is premature, some of whom favor keeping tolls, others who oppose them continuing.
This new law gives MassDOT just 90 days to come up with a plan to bring back car tolls on the far west of the turnpike. It must also raise motorist awareness and compare tolling with other options. Another option would be to combine reinstatement of tolls with a transition to all-electronic toll collection and give discounted toll rates to frequent users. Toll plazas have been kept operating for vehicle classes 2 and above, and E-ZPass readers overhead read car transponders but levy a $0 toll at present.