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Patrick backs permanent Fast Lane discount

Posted by Martin Finucane February 27, 2007 02:52 PM

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Governor Deval Patrick
(Globe staff photo by Pat Greenhouse)

REGION

Governor Deval Patrick's administration said yesterday it wants to make permanent the Massachusetts Turnpike's Fast Lane discounts, counted on by thousands of suburban commuters on their daily trips to and from Boston, transportation writer Mac Daniel writes in today's Globe.

Facing a bleak financial outlook that includes a $2.1 billion debt, Turnpike Authority staff late last year recommended ending the discount. It saves commuters 25 cents off the $1 toll at the Allston-Brighton toll booths and 50 cents off the $3 tolls at the Sumner and Ted Williams tunnels, but costs the state $12.2 million a year.

In two months, however, the political and financial equation has changed dramatically.

Lawmakers representing motorists in Boston's western suburbs protested vehemently, arguing that the authority did not have the legal power to scuttle the discount program. This month, Patrick killed a proposal to end all tolls west of Route 128, which would have cost the Turnpike Authority about $114 million a year in lost revenue.

"The administration supports the Fast Lane discount program, and [Transportation Secretary Bernard] Cohen will be working with the turnpike board to construct a long-term solution," Kyle Sullivan, Patrick's spokesman, said yesterday.

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