"State Sen. Karen Spilka is taking the lead in questioning the rates and privacy of the Mass. Pike's new All Electronic Tolling System by sending a letter to state transportation officials.
The system is set to go live on Oct. 28.
In the letter sent to Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack Friday, the Ashland Democrat says many in Legislature worry about the impact to drivers based on recent news reports. The letter is signed by 10 other senators."
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- The text of the letter from Senator Spilka:
Dear Secretary Pollack,
Based on a series of articles over the past week related to the transition to an All Electronic Tolling System (AETS) on the Western Turnpike, Metropolitan Highway System, and the Tobin Bridge, we are concerned about the impact of changes to the toll structure and the privacy rights of those traveling on Massachusetts roads.
In particular, we are surprised to read about proposed changes to the toll rates on the Western Turnpike. According to these articles, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation noted that some drivers will see increases while others will see decreases depending on where they enter and exit the turnpike. As you know, the Legislature has long advocated for toll equity and we are deeply concerned about the impact of any toll increases either overall or individually on our constituents. In fact, the 2013 transportation finance law includes language prohibiting revenue collected from toll increases from counting toward the Massachusetts Department of Transportation's own source revenue benchmarks unless an equitable system is established to place tolls on other non-tolled roads. As currently proposed, the toll structure may not meet the Legislative intent to ensure equitable tolling on the Western Turnpike and other roads.
In order to get a better understanding of the proposal, please provide a response to the following questions:
- What are the exact locations of the gantries as compared to the current toll plaza locations?
- How do the toll rates compare based on the location of each current toll plaza and each gantry, including differences based on having a Massachusetts-issued transponder, an out of state transponder, and no transponder (including processing fees)?
- Will there be a grace period to give travelers time to obtain E-ZPass transponders?
- What is the proposed amount of the assessment, in addition to the toll, for drivers who do not obtain a transponder?
- How will the new toll rates be conveyed to drivers? Will there be signs or other forms of notification posted at the gantries?
- What was the methodology used to determine the location of the gantries, the number of gantries, and the amount each toll proposed at each gantry compared to the current toll plazas?
- If the hearings result in significant feedback, will the timeline for the new toll structure be delayed or comments incorporated?
- Will all current toll plazas be taken down at the same time? What is the cost of tearing the toll plazas down?
- What is the expected cost of the early retirement incentive program for toll collectors?
- What is the expected savings of the AETS broken down by fiscal year?
- What is the expected toll revenue collected on the Western Turnpike under the AETS compared to the current toll revenue collected on the Western Turnpike?
- When will the bond obligations be paid in full? If, in January 2017, the bonds are fully paid how much is expected to be required on a fiscal year basis to deem the turnpike in good condition and repair?
- How much toll revenue was collected in fiscal year 2015 and fiscal year 2016? How much of that toll revenue was used to pay the bond obligations and how much was used for maintenance and repair on the turnpike? Was there any surplus from the toll revenue on the turnpike in any of the previous 5 years?
- What region or district on 1-90 from the New York state border to mile marker 122.6 will face the greatest impact, either an increase or a decrease, as a result of the proposed changes to the toll structure?
- What specific driver and vehicle information be maintained?
- How long will driver and vehicle information be maintained?
- Will the data be maintained by a third party or by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation?
- Who will have access to the data collected by the gantries?
- How will gantry data collection differ from current data collection?
Following receipt of the above-referenced information, we request a meeting to discuss the proposal in detail. Thank you for your time and consideration in regard to this request. We look forward to hearing from you on this matter.
|Devices on new gantries above the Massachusetts Turnpike will soon collect tolls. For now, they’re capturing data on driving speeds.- ARAM BOGHOSIAN FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE|