New toll rates in Pennsylvania, New York and DC

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 1/4/2013

The Pennsylvania Turnpike will increase tolls 10 percent for cash customers and 2 percent for E-ZPass customers starting Sunday, Jan. 6. A widening gap between cash rates and E-ZPass is motivating more customers to pay electronically, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission says. Other agencies kicked off the new year with toll increases, as well.

The Pennsylvania increase amounts to an extra $1 for every $10 paid in cash, but only 20 cents more for every $10 paid through E-ZPass.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission continues to be bound by law to pay $450 million each year to the state DOT to fund transportation projects, including mass transit that aren’t related to the turnpike. That obligation has led to frequent incremental toll increases since 2007.

Speaking of diversion, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which operates the Dulles Toll Road in the DC area, continues to raise tolls to help pay for the Silver Line, a 23-mile Metrorail extension that serves the Dulles International Airport.

Truck tolls on the Dulles Toll Road have more than doubled since last year, from $2.25 for five axles to $5.25 at the Mainline Toll Plaza. Toll rates for trucks have doubled from $1.50 to $3 at the on- and off ramps.

Toll rates have gone up on the Dulles Toll Road every year since 2009, and are scheduled to increase again in 2014, the agency says. The agency’s board held off on making a decision about 2015 toll rates, saying the ongoing cost of the Silver Line will dictate those rates when the time comes.

Bridge and tunnel tolls in New York will be going up, but not until March, according to the Metro Transit Authority. Affected bridges include the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, Queens Midtown, Throgs Neck Bridge, Bronx-Whitestone Bridge and Hugh L. Carey Tunnel.

The toll rate for the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge will go up for everyone but Staten Island residents. Rates will actually decrease for Staten Island residents who have a valid E-ZPass, according to the Metro Transit Authority.

If you haven’t used the George Washington Bridge, Lincoln Tunnel, Holland Tunnel, Goethals Bridge, Outerbridge Crossing or Bayonne Bridge for a while, you may have missed a toll increase that took effect in early December 2012.

A five-axle truck now pays $75 in cash or between $47.50 and $60 with E-ZPass on facilities that allow trucks, depending on the time of day, according to the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. The five-axle cash rate goes up to $85 next December, $95 in 2014 and $105 in 2015. Click here to view the port authority’s toll schedule.

Truckers again have a reason to oppose those rate increases, as a portion of toll revenue is diverted to pay for economic development in the region.

The Government Accountability Office is currently studying the diversion of toll funds by the port authority. That study was commissioned by U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-NJ.

One facility in New York that will not be increasing tolls, at least in the foreseeable future, is the New York State Thruway. Truckers, lawmakers and business groups successfully pressured the Thruway agency to back down from a proposed 45 percent toll increase in late 2012.

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