MDTA resumes billing for backlogged tolls

For months, drivers who crossed toll roads and bridges in Maryland received no billing statements.

Now, their accounts are being bombarded with backlogged transactions.

The authority stopped accepting cash payments at its eight toll facilities and shifted to an all-electronic model “literally overnight” in response to the pandemic, and paused mailing notices to drivers without E-ZPass transponders between March and October 2020 “to help provide some financial relief.”

Separately, the authority last July paused posting transactions for drivers on the Intercounty Connector for the rest of the year over concerns that drivers might be getting charged incorrectly.

In March, postings resumed for non-E-ZPass drivers; last week, they resumed for ICC drivers.

Maryland Del. Alfred C. Carr Jr. said he’s received numerous complaints from constituents who’ve recently been billed for past trips on the ICC.

“When you drove on a road months ago and the charges are only coming in now … for people who are on a tight budget, that can be challenging, to not be able to predict when that’s going to happen and the amount,” Carr said.

“E-ZPass was designed to happen very smoothly, and that is not what is happening right now with the ICC transactions being delayed.”

“We understand some customers may be frustrated that we had paused processing their ICC E-ZPass transactions but we feel they would be more frustrated if we had charged their accounts incorrectly,” the authority said in a statement to WTOP.

Hellwag Villalobos, 47, of Silver Spring, told WTOP, “I’ve been using the tolls for more than three years and I never really had a problem with them until COVID-19 hit.”

Villalobos takes I-95 to get to and from work, and said he first noticed the backlogged charges posting to his account in the spring. He said he now receives bills totaling between $75 and $100 each month, when he used to pay $25.

“‘If you don’t like it, then don’t use the tolls.’ That’s one of the rude answers that I got,” Villalobos said, as he recounted his experience talking with MDTA customer service.

The MDTA said they don’t expect the backlog to be completed until 2022.

Last Thursday, the agency urged E-ZPass customers to maintain a positive account balance to accommodate backlogged transactions that will continue to post.

The MDTA encouraged those without an E-ZPass to check online frequently at www.DriveEzMD.com to see whether the backlogged notices have been posted in the system. Customers who pay before a toll notice is mailed are eligible for up to $5 off their payment.

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This article was written by WTOP’s news partners at Maryland Matters and republished with permission. Sign up for Maryland Matters’ free email subscription today.

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