As my mom tells it to me, when the Maine highway system was built, tolls were enacted as a way to pay for all the construction costs. But allegedly, at a certain point, the tolls were supposed to go away. I'm no expert, but I think the Chamberlain Bridge in Brewer might be a great example. Charge a toll, recoup the cash, get rid of the toll.
If you've driven down the highway recently, you obviously know that tolls have gone absolutely nowhere. And it's been a few generations since the system was established, so most folks now just see it as the way it is. Granted, Maine has no state or federal funding for the highways. It's all toll money.
So why are we going to have to pay more?
Like every other kind of utility in the world, the pandemic screwed up everyone's plans. Travel plans were slashed, restrictions were in place, and basically, no one traveled. So the Turnpike Authority, like everyone else, experienced major a financial hit. Tourists make up over 70% of that state's tolls, and last year traffic was at an all-time low.
So here we are in 2021, and traffic is pretty much back to pre-pandemic levels, but the state's highway coffers are still pretty skint. So that means come November, you're going to start paying more at the tollbooth. Especially at the York toll, where the price will go from $3 to $4 to get through.
But what about that trusty E-Z Pass that gets the big discounts?
Guess what E-Z Pass customers...... your rates are going up too. Right now E-Z Pass holders pay 7.7 cents per mile. That is going up to 8 cents per mile. And the discount for multiple trips a month is going from 25% down to 20%. So everyone all the way down the line is going to take a hit to the wallet, according to the Sun Journal.
Is this even fair? Why should we suffer?
Simple. We live here. Use the roads? You're gonna pay for it. Look, it's Maine. You'd think we'd be used to getting the short end of the stick when it comes to these sorts of things. But hey, if you want a nice highway to ride on, we have to pay for it. I don't like, you don't like, and there isn't thing #1 we can do about it.
My suggestion? Try walking from Bangor to Portland. It'll take a minute, but the price is right.