By the time you read this, the toll to travel on any of Cape May County's five bridges will have increased by 50 cents.

The Cape May County Bridge Commission raised tolls to $2.50 on the five toll bridges linking the Cape May County shore communities along Ocean Drive, including the Ocean City-Longport Bridge, Townsends Inlet Bridge, Corsons Inlet Bridge, Middle Thorofare Bridge and Grassy Sound Bridge.

Although this may come as a surprise to some drivers, there was a sign posted at the toll booths of the bridges at the beginning of March announcing the toll increase, according to the bridge commission.

In the bigger picture, this is the rollout of stage two of the planned three-stage toll increase for these five bridges that began in 2022.

At that time, it was determined that the tolls would increase 50 cents to $2 in 2022, 50 cents in 2023, and 50 cents in 2024, bringing the total tool increase to $1.50 over the three-year period.

Toll rates for trucks will also go up by 50 cents per year under this plan, to $3.75 effective immediately, depending on the number of axles and whether they are pulling a trailer.

Trucks will now pay tolls ranging from $3.75 to $13.75. Under the toll hike, the truck rates will range from $4.25 to $14.25 when the full increase is implemented by 2024.

The bridge commission says the toll increases are necessary to maintain the aging bridges. Although the Ocean City-Longport Bridge was constructed in 2002, the county's other four spans date back to the 1930s and 1940s.

The increase may not be immediately felt by many drivers now that the bridges have changed to the E-Z Pass system, which began in 2018. But, you will notice when your E-Z Pass bill comes in.

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