On Oct. 15, tolls will come back to the MassPike from exits one to six.
Gov. Deval Patrick reinstated the tolls as part of his budget to help with the high costs of road repairs.
Thursday night, Massachusetts Department of Transportation officials heard how Western Mass residents feel about it in their second of two hearings.
"Oct. 15 is going to come and go and Western Mass is going to be left holding the bag," said Ludlow Selectman Aaron Saunders.
Saunders, like some MassPike travelers, is dreading Oct. 15.
"We shouldn't need an extra $12 to $15 million to address some of the needs in Western Mass which are significant and have been for a long time," Saunders said.
As part of Patrick's budget, the tolls on the western turnpike will be reinstated from exits one through six for the first time since 1996, raising about $12 million a year.
"Knowing that, as we gave them a list of outstanding work that needed to be done, pending funding, they realized that a lot of the work was on the western turnpike," said MassDOT Highway Administrator Frank Depaola.
The western turnpike consists of exits one at the New York state border to exit 14. Depaola says the $12 million raised every year will go directly towards improvements like pavement work and bridge repairs on that section of the MassPike.
"People can feel comfortable that the money they pay will be invested and maybe even more so into the section of road," Depaola said.
Saunders says he went to the hearing to be assured that money will go to fixing repairs in Western Mass and not going towards Boston projects like the Big Dig.
"Scaling back those projects should be the first priority before they come back to Western Mass residents with no choice when it comes to public transit off, to pay more," Saunders said.
The MassDOT is also working on their project to roll out all electronic tolling that is expected by July 2016.
Until then, intercity travel on the MassPike will be tolled with a 25-cent fee.
Copyright 2013 WSHM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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