The Delaware River Joint
Toll Bridge Commission has announced it is seeking to add EZPass technology
and hike tolls at eight state bridges to pay for improvements to bridges and
increased security since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The cost to truckers
crossing the bridges would more than triple.
The commission has broken
down the 10-year, $526-million improvement plan into four categories: $18
million for security upgrades, including an armed 36-member bridge police
force and surveillance technology; $152 million for bridge maintenance and
modernization; $32 million for efficiency measures such as EZPass; and $323
million for expansion and new construction. If approved, the plan would take
effect in July 2002.
Per-axle tolls on trucks
crossing the Trenton-Morrisville and Burlington-Bristol bridges will increase
from 50 cents to $3.25. Per-axle costs on the New Hope-Lambertville (Route
202), Interstate 78, Easton-Phillipsburg (Route 22), Portland-Columbia, Delaware
Water Gap and Interstate 80, and Milford-Montague bridges will more than triple
from $1 to $3.25. Cash tolls for cars will double from 50 cents to $1 on four
of the bridges and from $1 to $1.25 on the rest.
The commission expects
toll receipts to jump from the current $32 million in tolls per year to $69
million in the first year of the increase. They are expected to hit $105 million
in the second year.
The Joint Toll Bridge
Commission is scheduled to hold three public hearings on the toll increases:
Dec. 3 at 9:30 a.m. at the Best Western in Stoudsburg, Dec. 3 at 4 p.m. at
the Best Western in Easton and Dec. 4 at 9:30 a.m. at the Trenton, NJ, War
Memorial. The commission's 10-member board of directors must approve the hikes
before they take effect.