CHICOPEE, Mass. (WGGB) — Legislative leaders on Beacon Hill have reached agreement on a transportation bill that will raise $500 million in new taxes.
Whether you fill up your gas tank, or take a trip down the Mass Pike from Springfield to the Berkshires, get ready to pay more.
Legislative leaders have approved a compromise bill that would increase the gas tax by three cents a gallon and would restore tolls along the Mass Pike from exit 6 in Springfield to exit 1 in West Stockbridge.
Motorists filling up in Chicopee were not happy.
“Currently, I enjoy it being free. That’s where I travel most of the time, 1 through 6, on the Mass Pike, to New York so I feel upset about that,” says Jolene Martin of Southwick.
Tony Karella of Easthampton also opposes restoration of tolls. “I live in Easthampton, work in Chicopee, so I’m on and off the turnpike in short stretches like that so to be paying those little tolls all the time it’s really a pain,” says Karella.
Legislative leaders say the new revenue is needed to pay for state transportation costs including infrastructure improvements.
But some motorists are skeptical about whether taxes need to be raised and tolls need to be restored.
“I really don’t think we need them, we haven’t had them for so long, they’re blaming it on the 10-million dollars they’re going to save, I say we can probably save money in other places, 10-million dollars I’m sure of that,” says John McCarthy of Chicopee.
There have been no tolls on the Mass Pike from exit 6 in Springfield all the way to exit one in West Stockbridge since 1996.
That’s when former governor William Weld eliminated the tolls in Western Massachusetts.
Late Wednesday afternoon, Mass. Governor Deval Patrick indicated that he would not support the compromise bill as it stands now, and that he would return it to the legislature with an amendment.