September 18, 2012

## Letters to the editor: Turnpike drivers fume at jump in tolls

What in the world is the Maine Turnpike thinking? I received a letter from them today saying they are doing away with the commuter program and replacing it with a "discount" program. In my situation, it increases my cost by almost \$200 per quarter.

click image to enlarge

A reader says that a new Maine Turnpike Authority program will increase his commuting costs from \$100 to \$294 per quarter.

2012 File Photo/Gordon Chibroski

I was paying \$100 per quarter to use the turnpike from Auburn to South Portland. The new "discount" program increases my cost to \$294 per quarter. Here's the math:

Under the new program, my daily tolls are \$5.55. On average, there are 22 workdays per month. That translates to \$122 per month (keeping rounded numbers).

Under the "discount" program, I qualify for a 20 percent discount of \$24 per month. Taking the discounted rate of \$98 per month and multiplying by three months per quarter, my new quarterly cost becomes \$294 -- triple what I was paying before.

This does not include any additional trips that I may use the turnpike for. These trips, which were part of the original plan, will now be above and beyond the \$200 per quarter they are adding to my cost. Are they nuts?

Mitch Beaulieu

former turnpike user

Auburn

The Maine Turnpike Authority sent out its toll increase letter to E-ZPass holders. All along, they said commuters would face a 10 percent increase. Frauds -- our current commuter rate from Eliot to Wells is \$42 per quarter. The new rate exceeds \$100.

To even get close to our current costs, we have to go through the tolls 70-plus times a month. Who the heck commutes to work 70-plus times a month? We may have to drive to work and back twice every day and on weekends just to try to reduce the new costs.

Can you imagine that an agency whose former leader stole money and then got paid more than \$300,000 for unused vacation thinks that the way it covers its bloated bureaucracy and increased costs is on the back of hardworking Maine families? Gov. LePage should be ashamed of himself for allowing this to happen.

I hope other hardworking commuting Mainers join me in protesting this outrageous action. Shame on all of you government officials involved in picking the pockets of Maine citizens again.

David Gray

Eliot

Help birds, cats stay safe by keeping felines indoors

Re: Voice of the People, "Evicting healthy feral cats will backfire," Sept. 10: Here is another take on the feral cat situation.

The American Bird Conservancy, The American Humane Association and the Humane Society of the United States published a pamphlet, "Keeping Cats Indoors Isn't Just for the Birds!" The Campaign for Safer Birds and Cats is made possible in part by support of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and others.

For the cats: Cars, animal attacks, human cruelty, overpopulation, disease, parasites, poisons and traps are some of the dangers encountered by outdoor cats.

For the birds: Cats, domestic and feral, are unnatural predators that have a tremendous impact on wild bird populations. It is estimated that cats kill hundreds of millions of birds each year and three times as many small mammals.

Some myths about the bird and cat interface are that cats with bells won't catch wildlife; that well-fed cats do not kill wildlife; and that once a cat releases a bird or chipmunk, it will survive.

Cats can be happy indoors if they have a safe outdoor enclosure, such as a screened porch, a window shelf for viewing, regular play with their owners, kitty grass and clean litter boxes.

(Continued on page 2)

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