The Maine Turnpike Authority increased its tolls starting Monday, marking the first hike in nine years.
The toll for passenger cars passing through the new toll booths in York is increasing from $3 to $4. The Maine E-Z Pass rate is increasing by 4% from 7.7 cents per mile to 8 cents per mile. Other fees are increasing, as well.
The toll increases are expected to generate an additional $17 million in revenue to help offset the $60 million financial shortfall caused by less traffic during the pandemic.
Overall, about 71% of the higher tolls would be paid by people and companies from other states, officials said.
Under the new toll rates, the average trip for a Maine driver is increasing in price by 20 cents per trip, while out-of-state drivers will see a $1.26 per trip increase.
Asked about the hikes on Monday, Massachusetts drivers at the Maine Turnpike's Kennebunk Service Plaza said that they're not surprised by the hikes and have seen that money from tolls has gone directly into improvements.
"It's fine with me," said Susan Ainsworth of Ipswich.
"The new toll booths seems very nice," she added, while pointing out that prices at grocery stores and gas stations have also gone up.
"Maine's worth it," said Sara Wilson of Duxbury.
According to Erin Courtney, the Maine Turnpike Authority's public outreach manager, roughly $1 billion worth of new exits and other improvements have been mapped out for the highway over the 15 years and Monday's toll hikes will help pay for some of that work.
However, prices may go up again in 2028, which is when a larger increase had been initially proposed.
This year's jump would have otherwise been part of that plan.
"It might be an 18% increase," said Courtney of the future hike.
"We don't want to raise tolls but the work we're doing is important," she added, noting that the turnpike does not "receive any federal funding," did not get any COVID relief money" and does not receive money from Maine's Department of Transportation.