The last time Mary-Allis Campbell tried to cross the MacDonald Bridge, it cost her $280.
A dual-citizen who lives in California most of the year, Campbell was issued a ticket last Monday after attempting to pay the toll with a now-useless bridge token.
The Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge Commission stopped accepting tokens on May 1, 2008. But Campbell said she was unaware of the change until she got back to Nova Scotia in December 2008 and was stopped when she tried to use a token. On that occasion, she paid in cash.
“I called in later to see what was going on, and was told I missed the 90-day window to trade (tokens) in,” the 56-year-old Timberlea resident explained. “I asked what would have happened if I didn’t have the 75 cents and (the bridge employee) said, ‘you wouldn’t have been held up, you would have been sent through.’”
Assuming she could use up her remaining tokens, Campbell said she went through the tolls again several times using her tokens – and was let through without a problem.
“I figured they have a policy that is letting people use what they’ve paid for, which is what I was told last December,” she said.
But last week, when she tried to go through once again, she was pulled over and told to wait in a nearby parking lot as a supervisor issued her the ticket.
“They seized my tokens and refused to write on the ticket that I tried to pay by token,” Campbell said. “So it just looks like I’m a bridge-runner.”
Bridge Commission CEO Steve Snider wouldn’t comment on Campbell’s specific case, but did acknowledge people are sometimes waved through if they try to pay with a token during peak hours and there isn’t an employee handy to take the proper payment.
However, Snider added people who do this too often are usually recognized and turned around.
“But if we happen to have an employee in the lane, and you pulled up and threw in (a token), and then rolled on through and ended up stopping at the red light, someone can walk up to you and issue you a ticket,” Snider said.
But Campbell maintains she was given a number of mixed messages that ultimately led to the hefty fine. She plans to contest the ticket in court.
“I don’t know if I’ll ever go back on that bridge again," she proclaimed.