Rising Maryland toll rates, possible E-ZPass discounts: Frugal Dilemmas

May 13, 2011|By Liz F. Kay

Toll rates for many Maryland bridges, tunnels and highways, including Baltimore's harbor crossings and the Bay Bridge, are set to rise over the next few years, reports Michael Dresser of Getting There.

These higher tolls will be phased in, with the first increase set for October and a second in 2013.

The Maryland Transportation Authority's decision also includes some potential good news for E-ZPass users --- they intend to research the impact of a 10 percent discount on tolls.

Many Consuming Interests readers, especially infrequent toll payers, expressed outrage and vowed to abandon E-ZPass when MdTA began to charge $1.50 per month to use the transponders, because the automated system should logically cost less to operate.

If the proposed 10 percent discount went into effect, you'd still have to take a lot of trips before the E-ZPass would pay for itself through the toll discount alone --- although everyone should consider the value of saved time and reduced fuel costs from avoiding congestion at conventional toll booths.

Regular travelers across the Hatem Bridge on Route 40 will likely save the most using E-ZPass, though. Drivers are now able to buy a decal for $10 annually that allows them unlimited trips across the bridge; the fee could go up to $36 and would be only available to E-ZPass users.

In the past, we've discussed detours, including Dresser's options to avoid the Delaware tolls on Interstate 95, which I regularly utilize to avoid both cash outlays and traffic backups. 

But Baltimore County Councilman John Olszewski Sr. points out in Dresser's story that detouring around to try to avoid the increased fees in Maryland may only result in increased fuel costs.

How will this impact how you commute, shop and otherwise travel through Maryland? Will this entice you to sign up for E-ZPass if you haven't already? 

toll facilitycurrent201120122013Commuter rates?Fort McHenry tunnel$2 each way$3 $4$1.80 in 2012; $2.80 in 2013Harbor Tunnel$2 each way$3 $4$1.80 in 2012; $2.80 in 2013Key Bridge$2 each way$3 $4$1.80 in 2012; $2.80 in 2013Bay Bridge$2.50 eastbound only$5 $8$1.50 in 2011; $2.80 in 2013JFK Highway (I-95)$5 northbound only$6 $8$1.80 in 2012; $2.80 in 2013Hatem Bridge (Rt. 40)$5$6 $8E-Zpass ($1.50/month) reqd. to pay $36 annual fee
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