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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Guaynabo residents demand hearings on ‘shadow tolls’

By The Star Staff

Outraged by what they described as government abuse, Guaynabo Sur residents belonging to the organization No More Tolls in Guaynabo on Wednesday demanded public hearings to put a stop to what they see as “shadow tolls” on the Martínez Nadal Expressway.

The group also urged Guaynabo residents to avoid paying the invisible double tolls on the expressway.

“Since last year, when we found out about this new attack on our pockets, we demanded that the Pierluisi government hold public hearings, as mandated by law and as is our right, before implementing this double toll. Thousands of citizens wrote letters in opposition but were ignored,” said Ángel González, spokesperson for the organization. “We took our request to the Guaynabo Mayor’s Office and the Municipal Assembly, hoping they would protect us. We are still waiting for the response.”

He said Rep. Jorge “Georgie” Navarro Suárez and Sen. Nitza Morán Trinidad, and other politicians who are supposed to represent them, have done nothing either.

“They stayed silent and canceled appointments with us,” he said.

About 30,000 vehicles use the Martínez Nadal Expressway daily, generating some $5 million.

Retired engineer Efraín Irizarry noted the lack of signage on the highway.

“It is important that they mark [the area] so that drivers know which exit is before the tolls,” he said. “It is mandated by law.”

The group said the tolls are unfair taxes that affect those who have the least.

“Those who have a Mercedes pay the same as those who have a beat-up car of the kind that Pierluisi detests,” González said. “And in particular, some neighborhoods in the south of Guaynabo have a large proportion of people over 60 years of age and almost 50% in poverty levels.”

González said toll hikes will raise the prices of what Puerto Ricans consume as products are transported by trucks that must pay the tolls.

However, there is a way to avoid the tolls in both directions on the expressway, the group pointed out.

Drivers coming from the north, from San Patricio or Guaynabo in the direction of La Muda, can take the ramp before the toll toward David Urbina Avenue and take the old highway 169 toward La Muda.

Motorists coming from the south, from La Muda or highway PR-1, can take the exit toward Piedras Blancas before the toll, cross the bridge over the expressway, return to the bridge along Avenida David Urbina, and from there enter the expressway northbound.

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