New Jersey officials propose toll increases

| 9/5/2008

Officials with the New Jersey Turnpike Authority project that next year’s revenue won’t cut it and that toll increases are needed to keep up with costs and to pay for expansion.

Turnpike commissioners, including Chairman Kris Kolluri, wrote to Gov. Jon Corzine on Thursday, Sept. 4, urging him to endorse their proposal for toll increases on passenger vehicles and trucks on the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway.

Commissioners said New Jersey Turnpike tolls should increase 60 cents per passenger car in 2009, another 90 cents in 2012, and an additional 30 cents in 2023. They said Garden State Parkway tolls should increase 15 cents, 25 cents and 8 cents in those respective years.

“Trucks on both the roadways will see a roughly proportional increase,” commissioners stated. But no figures were given.

The current cash toll for a five-axle truck and trailer traveling 113 miles on the New Jersey Turnpike is $23.20. The same toll is $21.20 with E-ZPass. Passenger vehicles currently pay $6.45 in cash or $4.85 with E-ZPass for the same mileage.

Using the commission’s model that tolls would increase for passenger vehicles by 60 cents or approximately 9.3 percent during the first year of the increase, truck tolls would increase approximately $2.16 to $25.36 for cash customers on the 113-mile trip.

Click here for the authority’s toll calculator.

Commissioners stated that toll increases will be used to pay down bond debt, enhance safety and provide congestion relief. That includes the completion of a $1.25-billion transit tunnel, which is not currently listed in the authority’s capital improvements program.

The New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway were consolidated in 2003. The most recent toll increase on the turnpike occurred in 2000 while parkway tolls have not increased since 1989.

The public will have a chance to comment on the proposed toll increases in writing or at public meetings prior to the board voting on the issue. Meeting times have not yet been set.

According to the authority’s meeting schedule, the next meeting is Tuesday, Sept. 9, followed by another meeting Sept. 30. The board meets in Woodbridge, NJ.

Gov. Corzine has made attempts in recent months to raise revenue, including a failed plan to increase tolls by 800 percent on the state’s three major toll roads in the next several decades. He has also promoted the privatization of all or part of the turnpike system, but those discussions have not made it into legislation.

– By David Tanner, staff writer