Agency hears from NJ residents opposed to toll hike

The New Jersey Turnpike Authority heard again Wednesday from advocates who oppose the agency?s proposed toll increases.

The meeting, at the Bergen Community College's Technology Center, drew dozens of New Jersey residents who were eager to express their views on plans to increase tolls on the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway.

"I don't want to see a single penny going for a toll increase,? says Leo Strauss, of Ho-Ho-Kus.

Kris Kolluri, the chairman of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, says the state?s damaged bridges and roads are in dire need of repair, making the toll hike essential.

"We understand the economic conditions are tough, but bridge repair can't wait [until] the economy repairs," he says.

If the plan passes, Kolluri says tolls would go up gradually on the Turnpike and the Parkway during the next 15 years - with the average Turnpike driver paying about 60 cents more by the end of 2008. Parkway drivers would pay about 15 cents more. In all, tolls on the Turnpike would rise $1.80 and 50 cents on the Parkway by 2023.

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