Saturday, 2:15 PM
By Noah Bierman, Globe Staff
The Massachusetts Turnpike Authority board, backing away from a controversial plan to sharply hike tolls that received preliminary approval in November, is considering a set of smaller increases as a stopgap measure.
Board members said today they would consider next month an alternative plan that would raise tolls by 25 cents at the Allston-Brighton and Weston booths and $2 at the Sumner and Ted Williams tunnels.
It is still not clear whether the new proposal has the votes to pass, but board members all said they were influenced by the public uproar over the higher increases proposed in November.
Even if the board does approve the new plan, they may still raise tolls again by July 1, if the Legislature and Governor Deval Patrick do not find money elsewhere to meet the authority’s construction and debt needs, board members said at a meeting today.
Under the new proposal, tolls at the booths inside Route 128 would be $1.50 for cash customers and $1.25 for those with a Fast Lane pass. Tolls at the tunnels would be $5.50 for cash-paying customers and $5 for those with a Fast Lane pass.
If approved, the new rates would take effect April 1.
The board’s previous proposal, which raised a hue and cry from Pike riders and spurred calls for consideration of an increase in the gas tax, called for a much larger increase, including doubling the cash tolls at the tunnels to $7.
In other action, the board approved a plan unveiled Wednesday to impose a monthly fee of 50 cents on all Fast Lane transponder users while at the same time offering new and replacement transponders for free. The transponders previously cost drivers $25.95.
Some board members balked at the plan, saying the new fee constituted a back-door toll increase.