Sen. Hill: Turnpike leader to listen to locals (Seacoast Online)

Posted: June 08, 2011 | News Items, Senator Hill, Transportation

YORK, Maine — Interim Maine Turnpike Authority director Peter Mills said he remains skeptical about the viability of all-electronic tolling on the turnpike in York, but he’s ready to come to town and listen to local residents and officials.

He said he plans to make several trips to the area, starting at the end of June.

“I want to come down more than once,” he said, “and talk with small groups of people, the different contingencies, so I can get a good feel for people’s concerns.”

Citizens group Think Again and the town of York favor keeping the existing plaza until all-electronic tolling becomes feasible, and separate reports (one commissioned by Think Again, the other by the town) indicated that AET should be the norm within the next decade.

The MTA has been favoring building a new plaza that contains both booths and open-road tolling, like the setup in Hampton, N.H., and Mills is leaning toward that scenario himself.

“We’ve got this crystal clear example just to the south of us and George (Campbell, N.H. Transportation Commissioner) loves it,” he said. A combination plaza “seems to me is money well spent, because it’s a predictable pathway to a solution.”

Mills’ statements have raised concern among members of Think Again, who have said they are concerned that their efforts over the years to prevent a combination plaza need to be taken into consideration.

Mills agreed, saying, “I’m not unwilling to consider their position, which is why I want to come down there.”

Mills does not want to hold one meeting with many people. He said he’d rather meet with small groups separately, such as selectmen, abutters to the proposed two sites where a new plaza has been proposed, the town’s legislative delegation and Think Again members.

He is counting on state Sen. Dawn Hill, D-York, to help set up the meetings and to attend them with him.

Hill said she’s delighted to help in any way she can.

“Peter’s a quick read, and I know he will listen thoughtfully and respectfully,” she said.

Source: Deborah McDermott, Seacoast Online (June 8, 2011)