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For whom the Turnpike tolls

Posted by Ralph Ranalli September 19, 2007 11:53 AM

REGION

Tolls on the Massachusetts Turnpike east of Route 128 will be going up next year, an editorial in today's Globe states, the only question is how much.

To keep turnpike users from paying an unfair share of the burden, Governor Patrick and the Legislature ought to be ready to intervene to prevent the kind of steep increases that were discussed at a meeting of the Turnpike Authority board Monday, the editorial states.

The board yesterday ordered the staff to double-check its figures on the projected deficit and find new revenue sources from turnpike properties. The board also needs to make sure that its recurring personnel expenses are reasonable. Cohen ordered a freeze on "nonessential" hiring on Monday, but that's not enough. The authority needs to make sure that its health insurance and pension costs are in line with those of the rest of state government.

Changes in fringe benefits will not, however, affect the short-term toll problem. To deal with that, the board needs to make the case before the governor and Legislature that turnpike users are saddled with too large a share of Central Artery expenses. Beyond what toll payers kick in, the state also picks up $25 million of Central Artery cost a year, but that isn't enough, given both the maintenance and the bonding obligations.

Read the full editorial in the online edition of today's Globe.

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