The New Jersey
Turnpike toll increase that will go into effect New Year's Day for
cars and trucks is hardly a surprise, being the second of a two-part
hike approved nearly three years ago.
But with a sluggish
economy, skyrocketing Delaware River tolls, and a possible war-related
rise in fuel prices all having materialized since then, truckers in
particular are bracing for a hard road ahead, The Associated Press reports.
Tolls will rise
13 percent for cash-paying truckers at all times and 8 percent for
E-ZPass users under a toll increase approved by the New Jersey Turnpike
Authority in 2000 under then-Gov. Christine Todd Whitman.
dollar terms, the new toll for a standard, five-axle tractor-trailer
will be $23.20 for the 118-mile length of the road, which runs from
the Delaware Memorial Bridge to the George Washington Bridge. That's
up from $20.55. The same trip using E-ZPass will be $21.20, up from
Gail Toth, executive
director of the New Jersey Motor Truck Association, an industry group,
said the gradual nature of the two-part hike softened its impact on
truckers, especially compared with river toll hikes.
However, the bridge
and turnpike toll increases could be compounded by rising gasoline
and diesel prices that would result from the destabilization in the
Middle East if the United States goes to war with Iraq, Toth said.
trucking officials say the industry is extremely competitive, with
profit margins in the low single digits, and is sensitive to even
seemingly small increases in tolls and other costs.