Hatem discount

Multi-axle vehicles passing through the Hatem Bridge toll plaza in Perryville will benefit from Gov. Larry Hogan’s 30-percent discount starting July 1.

ANNAPOLIS — Gov. Larry Hogan and Secretary of Transportation Pete Rahn announced a statewide reduction of tolls, effective July 1, on Thursday morning at a press conference at the Bay Bridge.

The announcement came on the heels of a special meeting of the Maryland Transportation Authority to approve the changes.

“We are proud to announce what, by far, is our largest tax relief package to-date and marks the first time tolls have been lowered in Maryland in nearly 50 years,” Hogan said.

Among the reductions, motorists of multi-axle vehicles crossing the Hatem Bridge on Route 40 over the Susquehanna River will see a 30-percent discount starting July 1 for E-ZPass users.

The Hatem Bridge toll for three-axle vehicles will go from $16 to $11.20, and four-axle vehicles will see a reduction from $24 to $16.80. The $20 transponder for two-axles on the Hatem Bridge will still be honored, officials said.

“It’s great news,” Cecil County Executive Tari Moore said. “We appreciate the support of the Maryland Transportation Authority and Gov. Hogan in providing measurable relief to our businesses and citizens.”

County Council President Robert Hodge echoed that thought.

“This is a day we can write down in Cecil County history,” said Hodge, who expressed excitement and gratitude about the news. “This is definitely going to make a difference.”

County officials, members of the state delegation and business leaders have been requesting toll relief for multi-vehicle users for most of the last year because of its negative impact on the economy, weighing heavily on business and tourism.

Moore and Hodge were joined by Director of Economic Development Lisa Webb and Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce Government Relations Committee Carl Roberts last month at a meeting of the MDTA to ask for toll relief for multi-axles vehicles on the Hatem Bridge and request relocation of the tolls to the Delaware state line.

These were recommendations from a Hatem Toll Work Group organized by the county about six months ago.

Moore asked for a reduction of 30 to 40 percent at the meeting, saying that would provide measurable relief for those transporting goods and services across the bridge.

Hodge explained to the MDTA board that the work group conducted a survey of residents and businesses to measure the economic impact. Roberts shared updated data from a Sage Policy Group report regarding the toll impact on the region, but also the state.

“Part of our goal was to emphasize what’s good for Cecil County is also good for the state of Maryland and should result in a win-win situation for all,” Moore said.

Two-axle vehicles crossing the Hatem Bridge with an E-ZPass will also see a discount from $7.20 to $6. The same discount applies to two-axle vehicles using the Tydings Bridge on Interstate 95 over the Susquehanna River.

Cash tolls on the Tydings and Hatem bridges will remain $8. The toll is only collected on northbound traffic, upon entering Cecil County.

The $1.50 E-ZPass monthly account fee assessed to those who use their E-ZPass less than three times a month is also being eliminated after July 1.

State Sen. Stephen Hershey (R-Upper Shore) attended the press conference at the Bay Bridge on Thursday.

“This is a big win for residents of the Eastern Shore,” Hershey said, noting the heavy burden the last toll increase in 2011 has had on citizens and businesses.

Hershey gave credit to the new administration for putting together a toll reduction package that works.

“The previous administration defended the huge increases as absolutely necessary,” Hershey recalled. “Not only is the Hogan administration lowering tolls, but the decrease is matched by a reduction in operation costs without a single lay-off and still maintains the authority’s AA bond rating.”

The recommendations include a reduction of the Bay Bridge toll with an E-ZPass from $5.40 to $2.50 for two axles. The Bay Bridge was given the deepest discounts for cash, E-ZPass and video toll rate, ranging from 33 percent to 37.5 percent.

The plan provides discounts from 10 percent to 25 percent for E-ZPass drivers of two-axle vehicles using the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel, Fort McHenry Tunnel, Francis Scott Key Bridge, JFK Memorial Highway Bridge, Thomas J. Hatem Memorial Bridge and Gov. Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge.

The Intercounty Connector and I-95 express toll lanes will see a reduction for two-axle vehicles by 3 cents a mile.

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