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
  • Support Canal classrooms with tax-deductible gift

    While your April 17 article (“Park Service opens Canal classrooms,” Page 1A) described this exciting program accurately, your readers may be wondering how they can help support this new educational opportunity for school children in Allegany County.

    April 18, 2014

  • Ivan Hall story brings back memories of a unique man

    I enjoyed Mike Sawyers’ Ivan Hall story. It was well written and brought back some wonderful memories of my Cumberland days and especially, an unique man.

    April 18, 2014

  • It’s a secret It’s a secret

    Could someone enlighten us about why not even the names of the two entities bidding on development of the Footer Dye Works building can be divulged?
    A Times-News article about the bids included an explanation from a lawyer for the attorney general’s office about the need to keep the names and other information secret at this time. Despite that, the logic of not divulging at least a little more information escapes us.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • What do we do about those who weren’t criminals after all?

    Now that Maryland has become the 17th state to (finally) decriminalize possession of marijuana, one could say that the legislature and governor should be patted on the back for doing the right thing.

    April 17, 2014

  • The first step The first step

    If all goes as planned, Frostburg State University will one day offer a doctorate in nursing, a physician’s assistant program and a new health sciences building on campus.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Translations differ, but the message is eternal

    This letter is in response to a recent letter titled “One cannot compromise on God’s word” (April 13 Times-News). I had previously written a letter titled “Why are compromises so difficult to achieve” (April 7).

    April 15, 2014

  • Closing the loopholes will help clear the regulatory waters

    After a decade of uncertainty over Clean Water Act jurisdiction following Supreme Court challenges in 2001 and 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers announced a forthcoming administrative rule to close enforcement loopholes, restoring protections to 20 million acres of wetlands, more than half the nation’s streams, and drinking water for 117 million Americans.

    April 15, 2014

  • The first step Remember where your freedom comes from before criticizing

    The deal at Fort Hood could have been avoided if it was caught in time.
    When you think a GI is not acting right, have him or her checked out before you put them back on duty and give them a weapon. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a serious and dangerous problem if it is not taken care of right away.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Where to look Where to look

    Drive anywhere in Maryland and it seems there is one highway construction project after another. While it is good to see our roads and bridges being upgraded, it can be nerve-wracking for anyone traveling a long distance.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Midterm elections give chance to return to American values

    A movement has been started by veterans of our armed forces to get out the vote in 2014. That includes Coast Guard and Merchant Marine personnel for those not familiar with the history of both and their sacrifice. This is no small special interest  group, but many millions of Americans who can have an enormous impact on the  outcome of the November election if they all respond.

    April 14, 2014