Maryland’s Public Service Commission should consider the economic hardship that will fall to users of the Oldtown toll bridge if a proposed settlement allows the tolls to triple in cost.
A hearing on a proposed settlement for toll increases was held in Oldtown Monday night, attended by about 50 people. While the toll bridge is not one of the main arteries in the county, it is heavily relied on by a small segment of the local community. In fact, 200,000 vehicles pass over the span each year.
For people living across the river in Green Spring and other nearby West Virginia locations, the toll bridge is a vital part of every day travels. It is the only way into Cumberland without using a long detour. The bridge is the only Potomac River crossing for approximately 15 miles in either direction.
Under a settlement proposed by the bridge owner and the PSC, monthly passes would increase to $45 from the current $14. The passes would be good for unlimited crossings during the month. Cars, trucks and vans used for passenger transportation would rise from 50 cents to $1.50 per crossing. All other vehicles would rise from $1 to $1.50. There are exceptions — tractor-trailers and buses will rise from $2 to $6 per crossing and motorcycles and ATVs from 25 cents to 50 cents.
While we understand the need to raise revenue for repairs to the bridge, tripling user rates will be a great hardship on daily commuters. Rather than approve a triple increase, we hope the PSC goes with a lesser increase and permits the bridge owner more time to make repairs.
Following Monday’s public hearing the PSC is now in a seven-day period of taking written comments before entering its final decision. Anyone desiring to comment should go to the Public Service Commission’s website at www.psc.state.md.us/ and look for case 9296.