Delaware River Toll Bridge Commission looks to up bridge tolls, truckers costs soar

| 11/27/2001

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.