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Tolls Considered for Pike here in Western Mass

MassPikeSPRINGFIELD (WGGB) — It’s been more than 16 years since then Governor Bill Weld lifted the tolls on the western part of the Mass Pike.

But recently… out of Boston… word the tolls may be coming back.

If politicians have their way, the 6 exits between Stockbridge to Springfield will once again begin charging you 75-cents to a dollar to use that stretch of the Mass Pike.

“I think, you know, it’s going to be a difficult vote anyway you cut it,” said Tim Brennan, executive director of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission.

While he acknowledges bringing back the tolls might not be every popular, he says the need to maintain and update highways locally is great.

“We have a pipeline of about $1.3 billlion of transportation projects just for the valley here. So any way we can increase the revenues and get more projects done is a good thing,” explained Brennan.

But some of the motorists we spoke with disagreed – especially if it meant new tolls.

“It would greatly impact our travel costs and we are pretty frequent right now unfortunately,” said Karen Gill of Albany, New York.

“I think they should leave it the way it is,” agreed Ira Caplan of Worcester. “A lot of the money seems to go inside the 128 and this area shouldn’t have to take a hit on it for sending the money there.”

The tolls were removed back in 1996 because the money was actually going back east to Boston. This time around the money would stay local here in Western Mass.

It’s estimated, money raised would total $12 to $15 million a year – a small portion of what’s needed for just one of Western Mass’s largest projects – rebuilding the raised portion of I-91 through Springfield: estimated cost, at least $400 million.

“It would definitely be a help. I mean there is design work that needs to be done, there is talk of improvements that could help with safety when we put it back together again, but there is still a big massive need there,” said Brennan.

Keeping the money collected locally – here in the area – might be one road to that revenue.

The bill to reinstate the tolls has already passed the state senate.

It now goes to the house for approval.

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