CENTREVILLE — Queen Anne’s County Commissioners officially backed electronic tolling at the Bay Bridge with a letter of support approved Tuesday, Sept. 10, addressed to Pete K. Rahn, secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation.
The letter requests “All Electronic Tolling be installed at the William Preston Lane Jr. Memorial Bridge. AET at the Bay Bridge will improve safety and reduce congestion for eastbound traffic flow by removal of the toll plaza.”
The second and final request is for changes proposed for toll modernization that provide new payment options and reduce select toll rates. These options apply to all MDTA facilities including the Bay Bridge.
They include providing new toll payment method by using a pay-by-plate method, reducing toll rates for new and expanded vehicle classifications, providing a discount on early payment video tolls, or pay-by-invoice.
“Currently the three eastbound travel lanes expand to 11 toll and E-ZPass lanes only to merge back to two to three lanes. The installation of AET would greatly improve safety and decrease travel delays,” the letter goes on to say.
Aside from the changes under the pay-by-plate option like payment by credit card, proposed discounts will affect new vehicle classifications.
Vehicles like motorcycles with two to three wheels will get a 50 percent discount while traditional cars and trucks will stay the same. Two-axle vehicles towing a one-axle vehicle with get a 25 percent discount, and rates for traditional heavy-axle vehicles will remain the same.
Finally, two-axle passenger vehicle towing, including trailers and campers, will receive a 17 percent discount with traditional heavy four-axle vehicles rates staying the same. Rates for five- and six-axle vehicles will remain the same.
The pay-by-invoice option, or video toll, applies to those already using the E-ZPass system. They would receive a 15 percent discount applied to their invoices. The pay-by-plate payment method would be scheduled to come online June of 2020 while video tolling would do so in December of 2020.
“The Queen County Commissioners have reviewed support the proposed changes modernize tolls by providing new payment options like pay-by-plate and pay-by-invoice,” county commissioners said in the letter. “It reduces tolls through new vehicle classifications. These will provide our residents options savings they travel across bridge work, recreate and access necessary services. The Board of Queen Anne’s County Commissioners appreciates efforts of MDTA to provide choices to reduce tolls.”