Massachusetts lawmakers concerned about new tolling structure on Mass. Pike

By: Gintautas Dumcius
Masslive

Eleven Massachusetts state senators say they have questions about the shift to all electronic tolling.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation last week rolled out the proposed toll rates for drivers as they travel under the metal gantries at highway speeds. The move to the cashless system is scheduled for Oct. 28.

The department plans seven public meetings in September, along with a sit-down with lawmakers, to gather opinions on the new rates.

But 11 state senators signed onto a letter saying they were “surprised” to read about the changes to the toll rates. MassDOT unveiled the proposed rates at a meeting of its board of directors last week.

“According to these articles, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation noted that some drivers will see increases while others will see decreases depending on where they enter and exit the turnpike,” the lawmakers wrote.

“As you know, the Legislature has long advocated for toll equity and we are deeply concerned about the impact of any toll increases either overall or individually on our constituents,” they added.

The proposed tolls “may not meet the Legislative intent to ensure equitable tolling on the Western Turnpike and other roads,” their letter, issued late Friday, said.

The letter was signed by Sens. Karen Spilka, D-Ashland; Harriette Chandler, D-Worcester; Anne Gobi, D-Spencer; Don Humason, R-Westfied; and Eric Lesser, D-Longmeadow, among others.

The letter laid out nearly 20 questions the lawmakers have about the new system, which was first proposed under Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration.

State transportation officials say the all-electronic tolling system will lead to reduced congestion and better air quality, as well as increased public safety, since people won’t be slowing down to go through the toll plazas. The toll plazas are set to be demolished once all-electronic tolling is in place.

(See the full letter at MassLive)