Pipkin, Sossi Plan Town Meeting Over EZ-PASS Snarl

“State Senator E.J. Pipkin says he is disappointed the Maryland Transportation Authority will not hold public meetings on the Eastern Shore on its proposal to charge a fee for E-Z Pass customers and other toll-related changes at the William Preston Lane Jr. Memorial (Bay) Bridge.

Four legislators, state Senators E.J. Pipkin and Nancy Jacobs and Delegates Dick Sossi and Michael Smigiel, wrote to the MdTA on January 8 asking for the Eastern Shore meetings, saying Shore residents would be unlikely to attend the only scheduled public meeting on the proposal in Baltimore on January 29. A January 20 letter from the MdTA executive secretary said the additional meetings would not be necessary because efforts have been made to solicit comment.

In addition to the E-Z Pass fee, the proposal calls for eliminating commuter, shopper, and travelers tickets and replacing them with an E-Z Pass shopper plan; charges for new or replacement E-Z pass transponders; and, increasing tolls for large trucks and multi-axle vehicles. Passenger car tolls would not be increased. The MdTA says its “”cost recovery initiative”” would generate $60-million and is necessary to offset the cost of operating the E-Z Pass system and to ensure that trucks bear their share of the cost of the state’s toll facilities. It announced the plan January 5 and gave the public until January 27 to e-mail or mail comments before the January 29 meeting at which a final vote is expected to be taken.

The town hall meeting will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Miller Senate Office Building Conference Room West at 11 Bladen Street in Annapolis. Anyone attending will need a photo ID to enter the building. Public parking is available at the Calvert Street garage after 6 p.m.