OCEAN CITY, Md. - U.S. Rep. Andy Harris says he opposes a proposal to double the eastbound toll on the Bay Bridge.

The Maryland Republican, whose district includes the Eastern Shore, said at a news conference Wednesday that state officials were unfairly shortchanging rural areas.

A proposal from the Maryland Transportation Authority would raise the toll from $2.50 to $5 starting Oct. 1, with another hike to $8 following in 2013.

State transportation officials defend the increase, the first since 1975, as necessary to maintain toll facilities. The toll is paid only by eastbound drivers.

Eastern Shore merchants and tourism leaders fear the toll hike could hurt business in the area.