Commission OKs higher tolls for Delaware River crossings

| Wednesday, October 01, 2003

The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission has followed the recommendations of two governors and will increase truck tolls by a smaller amount Jan. 1, The Trenton Times reported Sept. 30.

The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission increased the tolls last November on seven bridges it maintains between Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The tolls support maintenance on the total 20 bridges over the river operated by the commission. In some cases, tolls would have increased 300 percent.

Media outlets on both sides of the river reported Sept. 22 that Gov. James McGreevey of New Jersey and Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania had 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.

Car 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.

However, 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 Inquirer reported.

The toll on a five-axle truck had run $4 on five of the bridges before the recent increases, roughly 80 cents per axle. After the first round, that increased to $2.25 per axle, or $11.25 total toll.

The 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.

With the decision from the commission, trucks will pay $13.75 now to cross the bridges, The Times reported. However, that is not likely to be the final figure. Frank G. McCartney, executive director of the Toll Bridge Commission, said that eventually, tolls are likely to rise to the $3.25 an axle figure, bringing the cost of a single bridge crossing to $16.25.

Some 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.

Even though truckers will pay tolls several times higher than what they paid just a year ago, McCartney told The Times the new plan represented a "substantial reduction" for the truckers. He also said the higher tolls were appropriate.

"Trucks cause a disproportionate amount of damage to transportation infrastructure," McCartney said.

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