Baltimoreans who want to protest — or support — the Maryland Transportation Authority's recent proposal to raise rates dramatically at the state's toll facilities will get their first convenient opportunity June 13, when the agency will hold a public hearing at Digital Harbor High School.
That hearing, at 1100 Covington St. in Federal Hill, will be the second of nine to be held around the state.
The first hearing is set for Thursday in Gaithersburg, about an hour's drive from Baltimore in Montgomery County. There is a good chance that attendance at that hearing will be sparse because the toll proposal would have only a minor effect on the partly opened Intercounty Connector, the only toll facility in Montgomery County.
Much livelier hearings are likely at locations close to the toll facilities that would see hefty increases under the proposal. In the Baltimore region, those include hearings June 20 in Arnold, June 21 in Dundalk and June 27 in Havre de Grace. All of the meetings run from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., with registration for comments closing at 7:45 p.m.
Other hearings outside the Baltimore area will be held June 14 in Beltsville (Prince George's County), June 15 in Stevensville (Queen Anne's County), June 16 in Perryville (Cecil County) and June 22 in Newburg (Charles County). A full schedule, with exact locations, can be found at http://www.mdta.maryland.gov/.
Comments to the authority can be submitted until Aug. 1 at http://mdta.force.com/publiccomment or by mail at MDTA Toll Comment, 2310 Broening Highway, Baltimore 21224. Written comments will also be accepted at the public hearings.
The authority's board is expected to make a final decision on the toll proposal in August and to implement its first round of increases Oct. 1. The plan would raise tolls a second time in July 2013.
Under the proposal, the round-trip toll rates at all of the authority's facilities, with the exception of the ICC, would be standardized at $8. ICC tolls follow a different plan, under which rates are adjusted according to congestion levels. When the toll road fully opens late this year or in early 2012, drivers making round trips over its full length during peak hours are expected to pay more than $8.