Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

November 28, 2012

Reason should prevail regarding toll bridge

The purpose of this letter is to rebut the Nov. 18 letter to the editor regarding the increased fees for use of the Oldtown Toll Bridge (“Users of Oldtown Toll Bridge should be willing to pay more”).

We are a group of West Virginia residents who want the “Voice of Reason” to prevail and whose mission is: 1) to keep the bridge open, 2) to raise concerns about the process used to obtain the published fee increases and the validity of the rationale for those increases, 3) to show there is considerable room for compromise; i.e., we agree with a reasonable fee increase; one that considers the economic difficulties of the residents being served by the bridge; and 4) to explore funding avenues other than our economically ravaged pocketbooks. e.g., should the bridge be under both West Virginia and Maryland jurisdictions since it handles interstate traffic or should repairs be federally funded because it handles interstate commerce?

We have a concern with the jurisdiction of the bridge being with the Maryland Public Service Commission only.

Does it make sense for the Maryland PSC, comfortable and familiar with determining utility rates in Maryland metropolitan areas, to arbitrarily make life-changing decisions for a $66,000 low water, interstate bridge that directly affects the lives and commerce of rural Maryland and West Virginia communities?

The manner in which the Maryland PSC handled this issue, and their decision to grant a 200 percent increase, raises other specific concerns, as follows:

The PSC made their preliminary judgment prior to viewing or understanding the bridge’s importance to our communities. No public input was allowed prior to the PSC preliminary decision. Public participation was limited to a meeting of 100-plus local residents to state their grievances and opinions — no questions were answered and no obvious mechanism was offered to challenge a seemingly arbitrary and capricious bureaucratic decision.

Although the immediate issue of raising the toll represents a devastating 200 to 300 percent increase in cost, there is another equally upsetting issue, the potential closure of the bridge. Bridge closure is not an option! The Oldtown Toll Bridge is our lifeline. It’s our livelihoods. It’s our lives! It is not just a convenient route used to visit families, friends, and summer camps.

We want the author of the Nov. 18 letter to know we too “understand the economics.”

We understand the loss of the monthly pass would be devastating to the local residents. Some have families straddling the river, requiring multiple daily crossings to provide assistance ranging from day care to health care.

For these individuals, costs would soar from $170 yearly to $2,190; a 1,200 percent increase in user costs (or, corresponding “raise” for the owners). The increase to workweek users represents a 460 percent “raise.”

We don’t question the need for a reasonable revenue increase; however, it should be at a level appropriate for a $66,000 investment. A proposed increase to cover, for example, a “raise” in annual salary to the $60,000 to $100,000 level does not meet most people’s expectations of reasonable.

We have many other related concerns, such as the fee increases for trucks (many exceeding weight limitations) being less than the proposed increases for auto traffic.

Or the $500,000 yearly bridge revenue embedded in the owners’ request. What happens to the crossing fees once the $700,000 of repairs has been spent? Will they decrease or will they be sustained to allow a $500,000 “raise” to the owners’ revenues?

Yes, most everyone who works, or is reliant on Social Security, or depends on welfare wants a raise, but whom, in this or any economy really believes a raise of this magnitude is reasonable?

Susanne Roy, Aileen Nolan, Tina Rapson, Dave Bottrell, Judy Merritt, Dave Cannon

The Voice of Reason: A committee formed for safeguarding the Oldtown Toll Bridge

Green Spring, W.Va.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • If we don’t sell it to them, somebody else will

    The front page article on coal exports by AP writer Dina Cappiello is one of the most asinine and biased “news” articles I’ve read (“Not in my backyard: U.S. sending dirty coal abroad,” July 29 Times-News, Page 1A).

    July 30, 2014

  • Research cost of watershed plan before implementing it

    July 30, 2014

  • ‘Prayers in the Park’ event slated Aug. 18 in Johnstown

    July 30, 2014

  • Not a villain Not a villain

    Time was that we looked for heroes. Heroes of the make-believe variety have sold a lot of comic books. We also had real-life heroes like Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy, whose deaths the whole nation mourned.
    These days, we seem to be more interested in looking for villains. “Vote for me because I’m the good guy” has taken a back seat to “Don’t vote for him, because he’s the bad guy.”

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Other groups get county funds, so should CHCO

    At a recent county commissioner meeting, members of the Cumberland Historic Cemetery Organization, Maryland Delegate LeRoy Myers Jr. and Pastor Alfred Deas of the Metropolitan A.M.E. Church, Cumberland attended to request from the commissioners $5 dollars of marriage license money be permanently allocated to the CHCO (“Cemetery group renews funding request,” July 25 Times-News, Page 1A).

    July 29, 2014

  • No public funding for extremist organization

    Once again, the Cumberland Historic Cemetery Organization has asked the Allegany County commissioners for public funding (“Cemetery group renews funding request,” July 25 Times-News, Page 1A).

    July 29, 2014

  • About time About time

    Although many Cumberland streets are in need of repair and improvements, the decision by city and county officials to address Greene Street is a good one.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Why are fair officials targeting firefighters?

    The Allegany County Fair has been known for its Demolition Derby for a long time. Several years back the operation of the derby was awarded to the local Cresaptown Volunteer Fire Department.

    July 28, 2014

  • Here’s a time when W.Va. law took precedence over Md. law

     There may be an applicable precedent concerning any assumption that the Potomac Highlands Airport Authority (PHAA) can choose to ignore West Virginia territorial state laws.

    July 28, 2014

  • Citizens don’t want Terrapin Run; remove it from the plan

    July 28, 2014