To get out on the open road from Maryland will soon cost more.
The Maryland Transportation Authority is planning on dramatically hiking its tolls on bridges, tunnels, and tollways. By 2013, the car fees would go from $3-$5, on many of these routes, to $8. For truckers, the rates would double, getting as high as $48.
Thousands have protested in public hearings all over the state; and rightly so. These increases will cost commuting families thousands and semi-truck drivers even more.
Maryland needs a road to recovery, but its not going to find it by hyper-tolling their routes. Jobs are leaving Maryland— in fact, 20,000 jobs left Maryland last year and Maryland ranks as the worst state for job creation in the country. Over 200,000 people in Maryland are seeking employment.
People are hurting in Maryland, and their tax burdens aren’t helping. Maryland’s overall tax burden is the 12th worst in the nation, paying 10-percent to the state. This is especially bad, considering their neighboring states – including Delaware, Virginia and West Virginia – have lower tax burdens (ranking 23rd, 33rd and 27th worst respectively).
Costing Marylanders more to commute to work and travel about the state will just further burden the families and businesses in Maryland. This will not be a step toward job creation, nor economic stability.
Truckers, who will pay thousands extra, will be forced to raise their rates, hurting producers, wholesalers, and the trucking companies.
One particular problem with the toll increase plan in Maryland is that, being a relatively small state, travelers will find it easy to reroute themselves through neighboring states or use alternate routes. One Maryland resident noted, at one of the MTA’s public hearings, that he will be forced to drive his RV through cities to avoid the high tolls: “I can go up (Interstate) 95 and take Route 1, so I would miss every toll I would have to come through. If that's what they want, they'll have a big traffic jam in the city with big campers and trucks.”
Avoiding traveling through Maryland would be even more beneficial considering some of Maryland’s neighbors charge far less in gas taxes. The gas tax in Maryland is over 23-cents, whereas the gas tax in DC is 20-cents and is 17.5-cents in Virginia.
The toll increase could result in Maryland’s few remaining businesses relocating to other states, especially if they must ship their products, and Marylanders will see their wallets run-over by a semi-truck.