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MDTA Reducing Amount Of Toll Increases

CECIL COUNTY, Md. (WJZ)-- The state has its hand in your pocket again, but doesn't plan to dig as deeply. The Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) is revising the size of its toll increases.

Political reporter Pat Warren has the numbers, and reaction from residents.

Cecil County businessman Steve McGee relies on customers who cross the Hatem Bridge to get their hair done at his salon. The news of a toll hike hit hard.

"Shocked, upset that it would hurt our business," he said.

Irate residents accustomed to a $10 sticker program that gave them unlimited trips across the Hatem, protested. Karen Green, who uses it every day, thought the increase might kill her.

"It's a lifeline for me because I am a dialysis patient," Green said. "My kidneys failed, I am on a transplant list. Some days I'm incapable of driving myself, so friends, family, co-workers have offered to drive me. To cross this bridge, that would cost them."

The original Hatem Bridge proposal charged drivers $36 a year as of Oct. 1, with another increase after that to $72.

The MDTA backed off drastically, with a new plan to charge drivers $10 in the first year and $20 in 2013.

It's close to a recommendation made by State Senator Nancy Jacobs.

"Everybody up there at the toll authority, they all agree that what they were doing to Cecil County was too much of a burden," Jacobs said.

Bay Bridge travelers will also fare better.

The original plan for the Bay Bridge was a hike from $2.50 to $5, and a $3 jump to $8 in 2013. The new plan is a $1.50 hike to $4, followed by a raise to $6 in 2013.

The final vote is next week.

Three- and four-axle vehicles will also see decreases from the original proposals. The MDTA's new recommendations are based on a series of public hearings.

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