Town balks as truckers use free bridge to avoid sharply increased tolls

| 9/18/2003

So many truckers are using a free bridge in Stockton, NJ, to cross the Delaware River that local officials are asking the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission to lower the weight limit to keep trucks off, The Lambertville Beacon reported Sept. 17.

The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission increased the tolls last November on seven bridges it maintains between New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The tolls support maintenance on the total 20 bridges over the river operated by the commission. In some cases, tolls will increase 300 percent. On five of the bridges, The Intelligencer reported, five-axle truck tolls went from $4 to $11.25.

The higher tolls have sparked anger from truckers and complaints from businesses near the more expensive bridges, and Gov. James McGreevey of New Jersey and Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania were recently reported to be working out the details of a deal that would reduce the tolls. New Jersey Assemblyman Guy Gregg, R-Washington Township, told The Trenton Times that the reduction could be as much as 25 cents per axel for trucks.

But some truckers have apparently found their own way around the high-cost river crossings, opting to use the free bridges operated by the Joint Toll Bridge Commission instead. And that has spurred Stockton residents and officials to action. The New Jersey State Police even conducted truck weight checks at the bridge in August, The Beacon reported.

Councilman Neal Esposito told the newspaper that none of the trucks were found to be in violation of weight restrictions.