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Bay City toll bridge company facing $12 customer service lawsuit

The Liberty Bridge in Bay City
The Liberty Bridge in Bay City

Bay City Bridge Partners, the company operating toll collection on the Liberty Bridge in Bay City, is facing a lawsuit over a $4 toll. The suit was filed by Bay City resident and lawyer Matthew Hewitt. He says he was unfairly charged $4 for crossing the bridge, despite having a transponder for electronic tolling that should exempt him from paying a toll until 2028.

The suit was filed in Michigan’s 74th District Court in Bay City.

Hewitt said his suit stems from a toll fee he was assessed in March. As a part of the agreement that let the company take over the bridge and levy tolls, city residents with a transponder would be exempt from paying tolls until 2028. Hewitt and his wife (who is also named as a plaintiff in the suit) said they put the transponders on all three of their cars.

In his suit, Hewitt said he drove over the bridge multiple times with the transponder, and one of them triggered a $4 for toll. That's confusing, he said, because $4 is not a listed toll rate for residents with passenger cars. Residents with transponders are exempt until 2028; non-residents and commercial vehicles pay a $2 fee; and the pay-by-plate rate without a transponder is $5.50

“How they got $4, I haven’t a clue,” Hewitt said.

Hewitt said his suit is not anti-toll, and it's not about reaping a profit. "This has nothing to do with the implementation of tolls or anything of that nature. The reason I'm suing Bridge Partners is their complete and utter failure to have any sort of control over the billing or tolling,” he said.

“I am amongst many, many people that have gotten improper tolls. When you try to contact [the company] and say ‘I have an improper toll,’ you basically just get the runaround,” he said.

“You try to submit it online, it doesn't go anywhere. You call, you wait 45 minutes, an hour longer, they recommend that you come down there, said Hewitt. "The line was to the door, if not outside the door. There have been other days that it's been around the block.”

The suit is over a $4 ticket, but the suit seeks $12 and legal fees and court costs. Hewitt cited state a statutory conversion law that entitles a victim of stolen property to three times the amount of damage, as legal fees and court costs. “We have requested multiple times to get our property back, meaning our $4, and we can't seem to ever get them to do that,” he said.

Bay City Bridge Partners did not respond to a request for comment.

A.J. Jones is a newsroom intern and graduate of the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Sources say he owns a dog named Taffy.
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