No Pike bailout could mean toll hike; $20 monthly rise feared for Central Mass.Byline: Shaun Sutner
AUBURN Auburn (ô`bərn).
1 City (1990 pop. 33,830), Lee co., E Ala.; inc. 1839. The city's economy centers around Auburn Univ.; there is some manufacturing.
2 City (1990 pop. 24,309), seat of Androscoggin co. - Massachusetts Turnpike The Massachusetts Turnpike (commonly shortened to the MassPike or The Pike) is the easternmost 138-mile (222 km) stretch of Interstate 90. The Turnpike begins at the western border Massachusetts in West Stockbridge connecting with the Berkshire Connector portion of Authority officials yesterday raised the specter of toll increases if lawmakers do not bail out the authority from what they said is a staggering debt burden for Boston's Big Dig Big Dig or The Big Dig may refer to:
At the authority board's monthly meeting here, Turnpike turnpike, road paid for partly or wholly by fees collected from travelers at tollgates. It derives its name from the hinged bar that prevented passage through such a gate until the toll was paid. See also road. Executive Director Alan LeBovidge outlined a series of steps that include eliminating the current toll discount for Fast Lane commuters and Boston-area residents, which he called an unfunded mandate An unfunded mandate is a statute that requires government or private parties to carry out specific actions, but does not appropriate any funds for that purpose. Examples
As soon as next year, Mr. LeBovidge said, the turnpike could hike tolls by 50 cents at toll booths inside Route 128 and more at Boston bridges and tunnels, raising the monthly cost of commuting for Central Massachusetts and MetroWest commuters by at least $20 a month. Lawmakers would have to approve the move.
"By the end of fiscal year 2009, the Turnpike Authority would have done everything to avoid toll increases ... and could vote a toll increase knowing no stone had been left unturned," Mr. LeBovidge said at the meeting at Auburn Town Hall. The board occasionally meets outside Boston.
Mr. LeBovidge's plan - which includes reducing toll collection staff, tapping reserves and selling or leasing turnpike property - involves seeking up to $100 million in annual funding from the Legislature to help the authority pay down $1.2 billion in Big Dig debt.
The toll increase part of the proposal provoked pro·voke
tr.v. pro·voked, pro·vok·ing, pro·vokes
1. To incite to anger or resentment.
2. To stir to action or feeling.
3. To give rise to; evoke: provoke laughter. an immediate protest against toll hikes from some board members, including Michael P. Angelini of Worcester, who argued that non-Boston commuters have been unfairly saddled with higher tolls to pay for a project that primarily benefits the Boston area and its many non-toll-paying commuters.
"The least fair thing to do is to impose a toll increase on toll payers who have been saddled with a $1.2 billion cost," Mr. Angelini said. "But for that cost, we could operate quite well."
Board member Mary Z. Connaughton of Framingham blasted blast·ed
1. Used as an intensive: I hate these blasted flies.
2. Slang Drunk or intoxicated.
3. Blighted, withered, or shriveled. the plan, arguing that the authority could go all but bankrupt BANKRUPT. A person who has done, or suffered some act to be done, which is by law declared an act of bankruptcy; in such case he may be declared a bankrupt.
2. It is proper to notice that there is much difference between a bankrupt and an insolvent. by eating up its reserves, and that toll hikes are unacceptable.
As an alternative, she proposed that the authority get the federal government or a public-private partnership Public-private partnership (PPP) describes a government service or private business venture which is funded and operated through a partnership of government and one or more private sector companies. These schemes are sometimes referred to as PPP or P3. to run the authority's transportation network in the Boston area, the so-called Metropolitan Highway System.
"This is an ugly scenario. With these numbers, a driver coming from MetroWest, for example, would be paying the same in tolls as they do for gas," Ms. Connaughton said. "We're basically setting ourselves up for a huge toll increase.
"Eliminating the Fast Lane discount is a toll increase," she continued. "Trying to go near that program is an enormous mistake and wrong for our toll payers."
Early indications are that lawmakers, who voted earlier this summer to guarantee Turnpike Authority bonds to prop up the financially teetering authority, will take the authority officials' request seriously when their new two-year session starts in January.
"In a time when the economy is down and people are struggling to fill up their tanks, it's very difficult to ask commuters outside the Boston area to pay more to get to work," state Rep. Vincent A. Pedone, D-Worcester, said in an interview. "Having said that, there needs to be recognition from the Legislature that the turnpike is struggling and we have an obligation to help.
"We need to assist them in restructuring restructuring - The transformation from one representation form to another at the same relative abstraction level, while preserving the subject system's external behaviour (functionality and semantics). their debt, and this has to be one of the first matters we take up in the new Legislature," he said.
Drivers with electronic Fast Lane transponders pay 25 cents less than drivers who pay with cash - $1 - at toll interchanges at Route 128 and Allston-Brighton and Route 128. At the Ted Williams and Sumner-Callahan tunnels, they pay $3 instead of $3.50.
Erasing the discounts would generate more than $18 million a year for the authority, which has a $70 million deficit this year that officials say is mainly caused by the need to pay $125 million in debt service each year for the Big Dig.
The authority's proposed budget for fiscal 2009 assumes revenues of about $200 million and expenses of $285 million.
The Big Dig debt is "what's going to knock us back," Bernard Cohen This article or section is written like an .
Please help [ rewrite this article] from a neutral point of view.
Mark blatant advertising for , using . , the state's secretary of transportation, said in an interview during a break in the meeting. "A lot of that is for a cost the commonwealth laid on the authority. The chickens are coming home to roost Home to Roost is a British television sitcom produced by Yorkshire Television. Written by Eric Chappell, it starred John Thaw as Henry Willows and Reece Dinsdale as his 18-year-old son Matthew. on this."
Contact Shaun Sutner by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CUTLINE: Mr. LeBovidge