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I-81 plan discussed

June 16, 2004|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

WILLIAMSPORT - During a discussion about Interstate 81 on Monday, a few Williamsport Town Council members spoke out against tolls.

"It's an astronomical effect this would have on this town," Councilman Monty R. Jones said, noting there are a number of local businesses and employees tied to the transportation industry.

The Maryland State Highway Administration is considering imposing tolls on Maryland's 12 miles of Interstate 81 as a way to speed up improvements.

Without tolls, the $400 million to $500 million project might start in 20 to 30 years, project director John M. Christman of Greenhorne & O'Mara Inc., told the mayor and town council.

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With tolls, the work could start in six to nine years, said Nicole Washington, a project manager with the State Highway Administration.

As the discussion turned to motorists using local roads to avoid paying tolls, Assistant Mayor Walter W. Tracy Jr. said the town's roads are clogged whenever there's an accident nearby on I-81.

"You can't get from one side of town to the other," he said.

Washington said the State Highway Administration hasn't decided whether to charge tolls for motorists leaving Maryland or entering Maryland, or whether to charge tolls at all.

Christman said a truck weighing station might be added between Halfway Boulevard and U.S. 40.

The public will have a chance to comment in the fall when a more specific plan is ready, Washington said.

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