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Maine Turnpike Authority proposing 26 percent toll increase

Maine Turnpike Authority

Peter Mills, executive director of the Maine Turnpike Authority, stands by a turnpike tollbooth in Portland in June 2011. – Pat Wellenbach | AP

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Turnpike Authority is proposing a 26 percent toll increase later this year so the authority can pay off debt from a highway widening project completed in 2004 and so it can focus attention on improvements to bridges on the north end of the 109-mile toll highway.

The turnpike authority is planning a series of public hearings in June in the Lewiston, Portland and Saco-Biddeford areas to discuss the proposed toll hike, said Peter Mills, the authority’s executive director.

“We’ve anticipated this for years,” Mills said. “We’ve done what we can to mitigate it, in the sense that we refinanced a lot of these bonds at much lower interest rates.”

Still, the Maine Turnpike Authority needs about $26 million in additional revenue annually, he said, and the toll increases are likely to occur at the highway’s major toll plazas in York, New Gloucester and Gardiner.

The Maine Turnpike Authority currently raises about $103 million annually in tolls and another $3 million in revenue from its service plazas, Mills said.

It needs the additional revenue so it can pay off bonds that come due over the next six years.

Mills said any toll increases would likely take effect in November. They must first be approved by the turnpike authority’s board.

The turnpike authority last raised tolls in 2009.

Source: Bangor Daily News

By Bangor Daily News

Bangor Daily News A family-owned newspaper now in its fourth generation of ownership, the Bangor Daily News has been Maine's newspaper of record for 120 years. Established in 1889 by the great grandfather of the current publisher, Richard J. Warren, the company continues to serve its readers and its advertisers with products that are relevant to the times. Carolyn J. Mowers, sister of the publisher, serves as Chairman of the Board.

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