Thursday, 4:30 PM
Toll hike public hearings start tonight
(David L. Ryan/Globe Staff/file)
By Globe Staff
Motorists will get their say about proposed toll hikes tonight at the first of several public hearings to discuss a plan to increase fares by 25 cents at the Allston-Brighton and Weston toll booths and 50 cents at the Ted Williams and Sumner tunnels.
The hearing at Mario Umana Harbor Side School in East Boston will tackle a toll hike by the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority that has been scheduled for nearly a decade, as part of the plan for paying off Big Dig debt.
Other public hearings have been planned for Wednesday in Newton, Friday in Framingham, and next Thursday, Oct. 18, in Worcester. An additional hearing may be scheduled in Framingham after residents complained about the timing of the one scheduled Friday night.
Last week, the Turnpike board gave preliminary approval to hikes that were much smaller than had been anticipated. In September, the board discussed increasing the $3 tolls on the tunnels to as much as $6 and hiking the $1 tolls in Weston and Allston to as much as $1.75.
Instead, the authority put off a major toll hike in the hopes that Governor Deval Patrick’s plan to reorganize the agencies that oversee transportation will save money by eliminating redundancies. Transportation Secretary Bernard Cohen, who is also chairman of the Turnpike Authority board, said last week that he will give the Legislature a year to work with him and other members of Patrick's administration to find savings.
The current proposal would increase the tolls at Allston-Brighton and Weston to $1.25 and the Ted Williams and Sumner tunnels to $3.50, effective in January. After the public hearings, the turnpike board will take a final vote on the toll hikes at a meeting tentatively scheduled for the end of the month.
Details about the three scheduled public hearings are:
Tuesday, Oct. 9, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Mario Umana Harbor Side School
312 Border St., East Boston
Wednesday, Oct. 10, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Veterans' War Memorial Auditorium
1000 Commonwealth Ave., Newton
Friday, Oct. 12, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Framingham Memorial Building
150 Concord St., Framingham
Thursday Oct. 18, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Worcester Vocational Technical High School
1 Skyline Dr., Worcester