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Toll hike equals more Route 9 traffic

Posted November 25, 2008 07:19 AM

As the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority pressed its plan to raise tolls, city and town officials along the highway’s corridor this week said they feared an increase would drive motorists to already congested secondary roads such as routes 9, 20, and 30.

Officials in Watertown, Natick, Wayland, and Newton expressed concerns about the effect a toll increase would have on pedestrian safety, emergency vehicle access, and quality of life for residents.

Newton’s City Hall spokesman, Jeremy Solomon, said the toll increase could affect many local roads, including Washington Street, Beacon Street, Commonwealth Avenue (Route 30), and Route 9.

‘‘We’re watching these proposals very closely,’’ Solomon said. ‘‘We are concerned it would lead to a fairly dramatic rise in traffic on our local roads and we just want to be sure that state leaders are considering that impact when deciding toll policy.’’

Echoing statements of other community officials, Solomon said he does not think additional traffic would provide a boon to businesses along the thoroughfares.

‘‘In general, my sense is when people are commuting to work they are not dallying in the communities through which they are passing,’’ he said.

At this month’s board meeting, the authority gave preliminary approval to raise tolls by 75 cents at the Weston and Allston/Brighton plazas and by $3.50 at the airport tunnels for drivers without Fast Lane transponders.

However, 36 state legislators signed on to a bill last week that would strip the Turnpike Authority of its power to set toll rates until Dec. 31, 2009, or ‘‘comprehensive transportation reform legislation’’ is approved.

The Turnpike Authority has scheduled a public hearing on the toll increases from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 17 in Framingham’s Memorial Building, 150 Concord St. Other hearings were slated in Worcester, Boston, and Lynn.

-- Brian Benson

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