GOP: Proposed toll hike could be illegal

Republicans opposed to Gov. Corzine's proposed toll increase say the plan could be illegal.

The Republicans are citing a law they say prevents New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway tolls to be used for non-highway projects. Corzine has earmarked a significant chunk of the expected income to fund a new a railroad tunnel between New Jersey and New York.

"The agency that runs the Turnpike and Parkway should come before the Legislature and explain its reasoning," says state Sen. Leonard Lance (R). "I have called on the Senate president and speaker to hold hearings on this matter."

The Corzine administration and Transportation Commissioner Kris Kollun say Lance is misinformed. Corzine's camp says a 2003 law gives the state freedom to use the tolls for non-highway projects.

Supporters point to work on the Driscoll Bridge as a previous example. Support for the bridge project came from the Turnpike Authority.

"There's no practical way to ever expand the Western spur of the Turnpike," says Kollun. "If the authority wants to relieve congestion and preserve capacity, this is a wise investment. And most importantly, the law allows for these kinds of investments."

The 2003 law says the authority can only provide funding for a non-highway project on an interim basis, seemingly implying the authority would be paid back.

"Trans-Hudson projects have traditionally been the responsibility of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey," says Lance. "This is yet another reason why the administration should come before the Legislature."

There is a chance the issue could go to court, but Republicans say that's not the outcome they're seeking. Republican leaders say they just want the administration's explanation as to how the law is on its side.

GOP: Toll hike not a long-term fix

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