There is a lot of talk these days about Massachusetts highways adding tolls to raise money to fund an expanding government. The discussion recently reached the level of smack talk with Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation Monica Tibbets-Nutt.

As my colleague Michael Rock recently reported, Tibbets-Nutt said, "We're basically going after anybody who has money." 


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Rock's report raised the possibility that Tibbets-Nutt might consider a toll on the new New Bedford-Fairhaven Bridge once it is built.

The idea sounds shocking, but there used to be a charge to cross the New Bedford-Fairhaven Bridge.

READ MORE: New Bedford-Fairhaven Bridge Construction Could Start in 2027

Fairhaven Tourism Director Chris Richard says, "The original New Bedford-Fairhaven Bridge which opened in 1802, was a toll bridge until 1870."

"I do not think it was considered unusual in those days to have to pay tolls. It was usually groups of private 'proprietors' who invested in the construction of bridges and roads and then made up their investment by charging people to use them," Richard said.

"Before the bridge was built, they had to pay passage across the river by ferry," he said. "That was simply the way of life back then."

The New Bedford-Fairhaven Bridge Was Once A Toll Bridge
Courtesy Spinner Publications

According to Richard, William Rotch, and other businessmen incorporated and got permission from the Massachusetts Legislature to build the bridge.

"It cost $25,000 initially but a couple of bad hurricanes did considerable damage resulting in costly repairs," he said.

Richard said an 1848 newspaper ad listed toll rates for the bridge as follows:

"Foot Passenger. - Each foot passenger, two cents, or one hundred tickets for $1. Each horse and rider, six cents or 25 tickets for $1.25. Each single horse, cart, wagon, chaise, sulky or sleigh, 120 cents a passage, or 25 tickets for $2.50. Each additional horse, four cents a passage. Each riding carriage with two horses, 20 cents a passage, or 25 tickets for $3.75. Each cart, wagon, or sled or other carriage of burthen, light or loaded, drawn by one horse or pair of oxen, 12½ cents. Each additional horse or pair of oxen, four cents."

"After more than 60 years of paying tolls people did start to exert pressure to make it a free bridge," Richard said.

Eventually, the Massachusetts Legislature took over the span and did away with the toll.

"That happened in 1870, sixty-eight years after the bridge had been built," Richard said.

Hilarious Google Reviews of the New Bedford-Fairhaven Bridge

We've all been there. You think you've made it with a couple of minutes to spare, only to get caught at the red light as the bridge closes. Some of us turn around. Others wait. What most of us don't do, however, is take our anger to the internet — but apparently, several people have, and the results are both hilarious and relatable.

With an average rating of two stars on Google, our love-to-hate-it SouthCoast landmark proves that it's at least slow enough for those stuck waiting to grab their phones and pour out their feelings online. From glowing to glowering, here's what people have to say about the New Bedford-Fairhaven bridge.

Gallery Credit: Kate Robinson

Not-So-Rave Reviews for Fall River's Braga Bridge

Love it or hate, most drivers on the SouthCoast use it several times a week. Now some of them have taken to Google to review their experience on Fall River's Braga Bridge.

Gallery Credit: Nancy Hall

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