More tolls? Lawmaker makes case for expanding tolled roads

More tolls? Lawmaker makes case for expanding tolled roads

BOSTON — If you think you pay enough in tolls coming and leaving the Mass Pike and certain bridges, one local lawmaker says we should pay more!

At a State House Joint Committee on Transportation hearing on Thursday, Senator Brendan Crighton made a case for adding more tolls.

"I'm from the North Shore, the city of Lynn, we on the North Shore, as well as the MetroWest, have for far too long been burdened unfairly by tolls," said Crighton.

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He says those in the MetroWest and North Shore play plenty and others should pay their fair share, but don't ask him to name which roads should have tolls added.

"I would never name a road outside of my district but certainly think people can take a look at a map and see roads that aren't tolled," he said.

With old toll plazas being ripped down in recent years and replaced by new electronic tolling gantries, Manny Rebelo of Charlestown says tolling has become simpler.

"The way they have it set up now, that everyone has an E-ZPass, I think makes it easier," said Rebelo. "I'm for it."

Not everyone is for it, though.

"I would say no because you need people to come here and work," said Tom Hurley.

The primary reason for possibly adding new tolls: money.

"I think if we focus on the need for revenue and also equity, people would be willing to take a look at it," said Crighton.

The bill, however, doesn't directly call for new tolls, but for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to carefully study it then report the findings to lawmakers by the end of the year. The bill also seeks a federal waiver to allow for border tolls.

Boston 25 News reached out to MassDOT spokeswoman Jacquelyn Goddard for more information on toll revenue. She told us:

  • In Fiscal 2016, MassDOT total toll revenue was approximately $395 million.
  • In Fiscal 2017, MassDOT total toll revenue was approximately $433 million.
  • In Fiscal 2018, MassDOT total toll revenue was approximately $396 million.

Goddard told Boston 25 News toll revenue recently has helped to fund and go toward the following projects:

  • The transition to all-electronic tolling
  • Commonwealth Avenue Bridge Replacement Project in Boston
  • Tobin Bridge Rehabilitation Project
  • Prudential Tunnel rehabilitation
  • I-90/I-495 Interchange improvements
  • Ted Williams Tunnel lighting replacement

Toll revenue is also used for the maintenance of the roadways and tunnels where the tolls are located.

Boston 25 News reached out to Governor Charlie Baker regarding this bill and have not heard back.