The Joint Committee on Transportation last week began a series of four public hearings regarding the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, along with transportation financing issues throughout the state.

The meetings are in response to proposed toll hikes that may take effect in February or March and Gov. Deval Patrick’s announcement last month that he will submit legislation in January that will dissolve MassPike within the next two years. That plan involves merging the western portion of MassPike into the state’s Department of Highways and having the Massachusetts Port Authority take over management of the Metropolitan Highway System, which runs throughout the greater Boston area.

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