The Maine Turnpike Authority has proposed a 26% toll increase that would take effect later this year. The increase would pay off debt from its 2004 widening project and fund bridge improvements.
The increase would generate another $26 million in revenue for the authority, according to a press release from Director Peter Mills. The increases are likely to occur at the highway's major toll plazas in York, New Gloucester and Gardiner, and would likely take effect in November, if they earn approval from the board of directors.
According to the release, MTA needs additional revenue to pay off bonds that will come due over the next six years. It also wants to improve bridges on the north end of the highway. It currently raises about $103 million annually in tolls and another $3 million in revenue from its service plazas. It last raised tolls in 2009, and the authority has "anticipated [another increase] for years," Mills said in the release. The turnpike authority is planning a series of public hearings in June in the Lewiston, Portland and Saco-Biddeford areas to discuss the proposed toll hike.
The authority's budget for 2013 cut its spending by 10% by reducing overtime, ending contracts with lobbyists and refinancing its bonds at lower interest rates.
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