The Maine Turnpike Authority this week voted unanimously at their monthly board meeting this week to seek US government permits for a wide new mainline toll plaza with open road tolling (ORT) down the middle, but retaining cash collection to either side.
We posed the following question Jan 23 to Dan Paradee, spokesman for the Maine Turnpike Authority on the controversy over the form that their southern toll plaza should take - (1) cash and roll-through electronic as now (2) open road tolling (ORT) through the middle and cash on the sides, the HNTB recommendation (3) all-electronic.
Maine Turnpike Authority's effort to build a new south-end toll plaza raises issue of all-electronic tollingBy Peter Samuel on January 7, 2010
All-electronic tolling (AET) is being vigorously argued over in Maine as an alternative to an approx-$50 million plaza with open road tolling in the center and cash lanes to the sides (ORT + cash).
Relying on engineers' advice the Maine Turnpike is renewing its 5-year long fight with local residents to get permits for a big new south-end toll plaza comprising open road toll (ORT) lanes down the center and cash toll lanes to the sides (ORT + cash).
Your editor was characterized by Maine Turnpike spokesman Dan Paradee a couple of days ago as "sort of off the wall." We were grateful for Dan's "sort of" qualification there, reflecting no doubt the fact that our professional relations over many years have been cordial and generally productive. He went on however about your editor: "He knows nothing about Maine, nothing about the Maine Turnpike."
Maine Turnpike should ask HNTB for their money back on consulting fees on the York Toll Plaza replacement. HNTB as general engineering consultants have been providing false and misleading advice to Maine on the state of all-electronic tolling (AET).
Labor weekend visitors to Maine from the south make this the busiest, and slowest, time of the year on the Maine Turnpike, and staff continued a now ten year old tradition of staging a "farewell, please come again" with figures costumed as Miles the Moose, and D Claude Lobster walking the toll lanes at the York toll plaza.
Maine Turnpike Authority's ten year plan forecasts much slower growth in traffic, and as a result a widening project through the western edge of the Portland area is being deferred at least five years. Traffic on the Maine Turnpike grew steadily from around 100k/day in 1990 to an average 170k/day in 2004 and remained at about that level through 2007.
Chairman of the Maine Turnpike Authority, Gerald Conley says their engineering consultants HNTB need more time to complete their study of options at the York or Southern toll plaza. This study goes on and on. In spring last year the re-study was said to be expected for "late June (2008)." By the fall it became "the first quarter of 2009." However it's still not done.
Maine Turnpike Authority (MeTA) is moving to raise tolls earlier than previously planned to have the funds to sustain its program of highway and bridge rehabilitation in the face of less traffic. They are looking to raise an extra $20m/year over current revenues of $83m now - an increase of 24% by our calculation.