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Taking its toll

Posted by Ralph Ranalli October 7, 2007 12:31 PM

tolls2.jpg
(Globe staff photo by David L. Ryan)

REGION/TRAFFIC

A typical commute from Framingham to Boston costs as much as $900 annually in tolls. In January, that amount will increase to $1,150, thanks to toll increases approved Thursday by the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority board.

Under the new toll structure, typical commuters living outside of Route 128 would pay $1.25 each time they use the Weston (Exit 15) and Allston-Brighton (Exit 18) toll booths. Between the gas tax and the tolls, drivers from the western suburbs would pay more than nine times as much for their commutes than those from Boston's northwest suburbs and on the South Shore, which do not have tolls on their major highways into the city.

The board rejected a second proposed increase that would have raised the Allston-Brighton and Weston tolls to $1.75, adding another $500 to a yearly commute from Framingham.

Even though the increase as voted is smaller than it could have been, it has many commuters, local officials, and politicians questioning whether the cost of the increasingly expensive roadway is still worthwhile, staff writer Ralph Ranalli reports in today's Globe West.

The issue of the toll increases is not necessarily dead, however. The hikes still face a public hearing process and a final board vote, and board member Mary Connaughton - who represents the interests of the western suburbs - has said she will urge her colleagues to reconsider Thursday's vote, instead increasing tolls only in the Boston Harbor tunnels.

Read more about the issue of toll equity in the online edition of today's Globe West.

Also, check out Globe transportation reporter Noah Bierman's report in today's City & Region section on how technology could someday drastically change who pays highway tolls in Massachusetts and how they are collected.

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