The American Trucking Associations on Thursday, Aug. 25, called on Govs. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Andrew Cuomo of New York to reconsider an “ill-conceived and unprecedented” toll hike which recently was approved, at their request, by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.
“We urge you to veto this proposal, which will not only devastate trucking companies who serve the New York City area, but will also increase the cost of doing business in a region already regarded as among the most expensive in the nation,” says Bill Graves, ATA president and chief executive officer.
In September, the toll for E-ZPass customers during peak hours will increase from $40 to $50 for a 5-axle truck and by another $2 an axle each December in 2012 through 2015. Cash customers get hit harder, paying a penalty of $3 per axle. The tolls apply to eastbound crossings. The current E-ZPass off-peak fee is $35, and the overnight fee is $27.50. The overnight window will be expanded to 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Graves says ATA, along with the state trucking associations in New York and New Jersey, were vehemently opposed to a plan where “a majority of new revenues will subsidize projects with no benefit to those paying the tolls.” Most of the revenue raised will go to development projects, including the World Trade Center reconstruction in Manhattan. “The trucking industry is willing to pay its fair share for the roads and bridges we depend on,” Graves says. “But this increase will primarily pay for the authority’s other operations.”
Graves says the proposed tolls will be nearly three times higher than for comparable bridges nationwide and that the combined effect of toll increases in the region must be considered by policy makers before moving forward. ATA says if these increases are implemented, as well as other proposed toll hikes along the Interstate 95 corridor, a truck hauling goods from Baltimore to Manhattan will see its toll burden rise from $114.25 now to $209.25 within three years.