‘Truly unconscionable:’ Turnpike, parkway toll hikes, $24B construction plan get OK

The New Jersey Turnpike Authority has voted to increase tolls on two of the state's major highways, the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway, and approve a $24 billion construction plan that the hike will fund.

News 12 Staff

May 28, 2020, 9:45 AM

Updated 1,426 days ago

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The New Jersey Turnpike Authority has voted to increase tolls on two of the state's major highways, the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway, and approve a $24 billion construction plan that the hike will fund.
The board’s 7-0 vote Wednesday came despite pleas from many people to delay it. Drivers are looking at turnpike tolls going up 36% and parkway tolls increasing 27%.
They said the agency should not have gone ahead with the hearing process while residents are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
A group of Monmouth County Republicans issued a scathing statement, saying, “currently, people are completely occupied worrying about their health, lives, and livelihoods. Over a million residents have applied for unemployment. To move forward with a proposed toll hike is truly unconscionable."
The construction plan includes $16 billion to widen sections of the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway, permanently implement cashless toll payment and replace a bridge between New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Gov. Phil Murphy could veto with the swipe of a pen, and some state Democrats are pushing him to do just that. Vetoing the board's minutes would void the vote. But he hints, he won't do that.

"When folks see the specifics of what this means, I think they will understand, this is not abstract,” says Gov. Murphy. “This is a real impact. This also, I think, takes the politics out of it. We've lurched too long. I've said from the get-go, we weren't going to kick the can down the road anymore in infrastructure. This is what it is and it sort of extracts politics. Now there's going to be a plan and I believe it's the right plan."
Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti says the project is critical to oppose a post-coronavirus economy.
Tolls will increase Sept. 13 on the two main toll roads. Beginning in 2022, tolls can be adjusted every year up to 3% to keep up with rising costs.
The Turnpike Authority doesn't get any money from the state or federal governments, as 92% of its revenue comes from tolls.
AP wire services helped contribute to this report.


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