New Jersey governor: No tolls on Route 440

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The plan to add tolls to New Jersey Route 440 will be dropped, Gov. Jon Corzine told an audience at a public meeting on his proposal to increase highway tolls to pay state debt and fund transportation projects, the Asbury Park Press reported today, Feb. 11. Corzine reportedly drew applause when he said, “I don’t think we will be moving forward with that aspect.”

Under his toll-road proposal, Corzine wants to pay off at least half of $32 billion in state debt and fund transportation projects for 75 years by creating a new agency that would borrow about $38 billion. To pay that money back, he wants to increase tolls 50 percent in 2010, 2014, 2018 and 2022; those increases would include inflation adjustments, and after 2022, tolls would increase every four years until 2085 to reflect inflation.

Corzine said last month the Atlantic City Expressway, Garden State Parkway, New Jersey Turnpike and Route 440 – which connects Interstate 287 with the Outerbridge Crossing – would be affected. He originally had proposed a 35-cent toll for Route 440.

According to the Park Press, the governor told meeting attendees he doubted truckers would get off the Turnpike to avoid the higher tolls. “The reality is that it is just as bad for a truck driver as it is for anyone else to sit in traffic and burn gas – they will look for the most effective way to get to their deliverers,” Corzine said. Trucking companies can write off on their taxes the increased tolls, he said.