crossing the Delaware River between Pennsylvania and New Jersey
could soon get a little financial relief. But for truckers, tolls
on bridges crossing the river will soon rise more than Hurricane
Isabel’s recent storm surge.
outlets on both sides of the river reported Sept. 22 that Gov. James
McGreevey of New Jersey and Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania have
recommended that the recently increased tolls drop. The proposal
would make tolls identical on all of the bridges operated by the
Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission.
drivers would actually see a decrease in the tolls they pay now.
Crossing the river can run as high as $1.25 on some bridges; the
plan would make all bridge tolls for cars 75 cents.
trucks would not see a decrease. The next scheduled increase in
tolls, to $3.25 an axle, would be blunted, with tolls only increasing
from the current $2.25 per axle to $2.75 an axle, The Philadelphia
toll on a five-axle truck had run $4 on five of the bridges before
the recent increases, The Intelligencer reported, roughly
80 cents per axle. After the first round, that increased to $2.25
per axle, or $11.25 – an 81 percent increase.
scheduled increase to $3.25 would have put the tolls at more than
300 percent of their original level. However, even under the governors’
plan, truckers would pay $2.75, or 247 percent of the original toll
price per axle.
type of toll reduction had been expected. Media outlets reported
Aug. 25 that the two governors were working out the details of the
deal to reduce the tolls.
not all state officials think the plan does enough. Even an earlier
plan that would have cut truck tolls 25 cents per axle was decried.
Petrides, an aide for New Jersey Assemblyman Guy Gregg, R-Washington
Township, told The Trenton Times that even a 25-cent reduction
would not be enough. That would cut only $1.25 out of the $7.25
increase many trucks have paid since tolls increased to $2.25 per
pay for the toll cuts, the commission will eliminate a self-insurance
fund for catastrophic events, such as a terrorist strike, The
Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission increased the tolls
last November on seven bridges it maintains between the two states.
The tolls support maintenance on the total 20 bridges over the river
operated by the commission. In some cases, tolls would have increased
local political and business leaders and others objected to the
higher tolls almost immediately. The tolls became the subject of
another controversy when local media sources revealed earlier this
year that the increases would pay for things besides bridge work.
bridge commission said the new rates were needed to help fund a
10-year, $526 million capital improvement plan for economic development.
However, The Trentonian reported in early March that a portion
of the toll hikes would pay 45 percent raises to the top three executives
of the bridge commission. Frank G. McCartney, executive director
of the commission, defended the pay hikes, telling the newspaper
the raises were designed to “retain talent” to help with the commission’s
plan to rehabilitate its bridges.
addition, The Allentown Morning Call reported earlier this
year the commission intended to use about $250 million from the
increases for unauthorized projects, including economic development
such as projects on waterfront property and airport work.
Newark Star-Ledgerreported the Toll Bridge Commission is expected
to discuss the governors’ plan Sept. 29.
governors’ proposed new toll structure would affect the following
bridges: Trenton-Morrisville, New Hope-Lambertville, Interstate
78, Easton-Phillipsburg, Portland-Columbia, Delaware Water Gap Interstate
80, and Milford-Montague.