I-81 toll idea drives residents to speak out

January 11, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

Most of the 20 Tri-State area people asked Saturday about a proposal to make Interstate 81 in Maryland a toll highway were opposed to the idea.

Some of those who support tolls, and even some who don't, felt they are necessary to pay for highway improvements.

A few of those questioned said that the proposed tolls could cost them money, while others indicated they would use alternate routes in order to avoid paying them.

"It's not going to impact our wallet too much, but it's going to slow down traffic," said Bill Hinckle, 62, of Hancock. Hinckle said he was against tolls on Interstate 81.


Bernard Houck, 56, of Greencastle, Pa., said he doesn't think tolls would be a good idea. "We already pay taxes, don't we?" he said. "The Pennsylvania Turnpike already has tolls and that's enough."

Tracy Carbaugh, 18, of Chambersburg, Pa., agrees, adding that she is definitely against tolls on the interstate. "I travel back and forth a lot to the mall in Hagers-town," she said.

Carbaugh added that the roads in Maryland are already better than the roads in Pennsylvania and that's where they already have tolls.

"I don't care one way or the other myself," said Charles Snook, 84, of Halfway. Snook said he doesn't use I-81 much so it wouldn't affect his wallet.

"I'd go around another way," Snook said.

Snook then decided he wouldn't support tolls so people could save their money.

Tolls would affect Steve Jaynes in both his work and recreational travel. The 39-year-old Mercersburg, Pa., resident said he wouldn't want to see that happen.

"It wouldn't affect me because I don't drive the interstate," said Jean Pitsnogle, 43, of Hagerstown. So Pitsnogle said she would support tolls.

"If it was reasonable, it would be all right. As long as it wasn't outrageous," said Casandra Neary, 20, of the Williamsport area. Neary said her idea of reasonable was 50 cents.

"I think it's a bad idea. (It would) slow traffic," said Ron Frazier, a 21-year-old Gaithersburg, Md., man who uses I-81 to get to Shepherd College.

"I don't see why they need tolls," said Robert Eisentrout, 85, of Hagerstown. Eisentrout said you can't compare the traffic on I-81 to Interstate 95, which charges a toll. The toll on eastbound I-95 in Maryland near the Delaware line is now $5.

Eisentrout said he would not support tolls, which would affect the wallet of anyone who had to go through a tollbooth on I-81.

"I don't use 81, but for the drivers that do, it's going to affect their wallets," said Calvin Foxwell, 56, of Halfway.

Tolls may speed up highway improvements, so Foxwell said he would support them.

Non-driver Richard Wishard, 84, who lives off Dual Highway, said tolls would be a good idea until he heard his wife's opinion.

Elizabeth Wishard, 76, said tolls would affect their finances because they are retired.

She doesn't drive on I-81 often, preferring to use U.S. 11 to go to Winchester, Va. There are too many trucks on I-81, she said.

Robert Poole, 47, of Greencastle, Pa., uses I-81 to get to work at Mack Trucks north of Hagerstown.

"I think we need to do something to upgrade the roads" so Poole said he supports tolls.

How much the tolls are and where the toll booths are placed would determine how much they would affect Hagerstown resident Cindy McGregor's wallet.

McGregor, who refused to give her age, said she didn't like the idea of making I-81 a toll road.

"It's shabby," said Bill Rayba, 37, of Martinsburg, W.Va. "But if they have to do it to make improvements, I guess it's OK."

Rayba, who travels regularly between West Virginia and Pennsylvania, said he's used to tolls on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and questions whether they are really about better roads.

"You know the roads there aren't that great and they have tolls," Rayba said.

If tolls are established along I-81 in Maryland, 72-year-old Harry Messick said he has a simple solution. "I just run U.S. 11 if that happens," Messick said.

A resident of Shepherd Grade Road in Shepherdstown, W.Va., Messick said he also owns a farm in Sharpsburg. "I don't need the interstate for that trip either," he said.

Tolls or no tolls, Jenny Snyder of Greencastle, Pa., is already using the back roads to get to her classes at Hagerstown Community College.

"I would still do that whether there are tolls or not," Snyder, 32, said.

Bonnie Kelley, 60, of Shepherdstown, W.Va., made a face when asked about the possibility of tolls. "I think I would be finding an alternate route to Maryland if that happens," Kelley said.

Charles Ashton, 70, of Martinsburg, W.Va., remembers when motorists paid a toll at Williamsport to travel on the U.S. 11 bridge across the Potomac River. "I wouldn't like to have to do that again," Ashton said.

But Ashton said he's convinced it won't come to that. "Don't worry - they'll find the money somewhere. They can take it out of the mass transit system funds."

Chris Keiter said the idea of tolls is ludicrous. "I am totally against it," said the 34-year-old Harpers Ferry, W.Va., resident.

Keiter has commuted from his home to Rockville, Md., since 1991- a 52-mile trip every day. "If they have tolls, it would hit me hard."

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