GARDINER — The Maine Turnpike Authority will hold a public meeting in Gardiner on Monday to discuss its proposal to raise tolls.

A series of public meetings have already been held in Lewiston, Portland, Saco, York and Wells, some of which have drawn large crowds.

“Gardiner officials were feeling a little left out and called and said, ‘Are you coming up here?'” Peter Mills, executive director of the Maine Turnpike Authority, said Wednesday. “I said I wasn’t planning on it, but could be available Monday night.”

The public meeting is scheduled to start 6:30 p.m. at the Boys and Girls Club at 14 Pray St.

Mills said tolls need to be raised in order to generate an additional $26 million in annual revenue to pay for money the agency borrowed several years ago to pay for lane widening.

He said he’s going to epsnd five or 10 minutes dicussing the toll increase. Information will be available on the increase proposals.

Mills said MTA board of directors is considering at least 10 toll hike options.

The option preferred by turnpike authority officials would raise the toll from $2 to $3 at York, from $1.75 to $2.50 at New Gloucester, from $1.25 to $2 at West Gardiner, and from $1 to $1.50 at the Wells northbound and Gray southbound tollbooths.

For E-ZPass users, the rate would increase by an average of 1.3 cents per mile. Mills has said the E-ZPass is the best way to ensure equity, but not everyone wants to join.

He said people at previous meetings have been asked to comment on the options, which he said could be modified. He said the regions have all kinds of different views and vigorously recommend one over the other.

“In the Lewiston/Auburn area, they want it raised at the toll booth in Gardiner, and at the other end down in Falmouth and Scarborough,” he said.

Bob Stone, a turnpike authority board member from Auburn, has said he is working on an alternative option. Stone wants to increase tolls at West Gardiner and Falmouth to $2 and also set the toll in South Portland near the Maine Mall at $2.

The MTA board will hold a workshop at its Portland-based headquarters on July 19 to discuss the toll hike.

Mills said the board could decide on one of the options at that meeting.

Mechele Cooper — 621-5663

[email protected]

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