Increase At The Tolls And WHY!
Tolls to cross the Halifax-Dartmouth bridges are set to increase by 25 per cent in the new year.
The cost will jump 25 cents to $1.25 for cash tolls and from 80 cents to $1 for MacPass users. The increase is set to take effect on Jan. 3.
The decision was approved by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board on Monday.
The Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge Commission says the increase is to help finance repair costs to both the Macdonald and MacKay bridges, which it estimates could cost $286.9 million over the next 10 years.
Work includes steel repair and painting, span bearings and pier rehabilitation, dehumidification of the MacKay Bridge main cable, resurfacing and deck repairs, and fatigue repairs and associated component replacement.
It also needs a new bridge toll collection system and customer service software, which is no longer supported.
The toll increase will also fund a feasibility study of a new six-lane bridge to replace the MacKay since its deck system is approaching the end of its expected service of life.
“No decision has been made, but if we were to proceed, the new bridge is projected to be required by 2040,” CEO Steve Snider said in a release.
“This allows us to fund the early stages of the planning and design process between 2025 and 2030.”
In its application, the bridge commission notes that the COVID-19 pandemic had “a significant impact on traffic volumes.”
Between April 1 and Dec. 31, 2020, the commission says traffic decreased on average by 24.5 per cent.
It does not expect traffic to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2024.
After that, it anticipates an increase of 0.5 per cent each year.
The commission’s 10-year capital plan also accounts for a second toll increase to take effect April 1, 2026, but will need to go before the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board for approval.