Bill would toughen toll hike criteria

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The American Trucking Associations on Friday, Dec. 16, thanked Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) after the legislators introduced a bill aimed at preventing unreasonable toll increases.

“We applaud Rep. Grimm and Sen. Lautenberg for introducing this vital piece of legislation,” says Bill Graves, ATA president and chief executive officer said. “Having seen the toll increase proposed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, they are acutely aware of the negative impact of allowing toll agencies unchecked power to raise tolls for whatever reason they want.”

Earlier this year, over the objections of ATA and other groups, the Port Authority oversaw a package toll hikes in order to balance its own budget and pay for a number of non-transportation costs. “There are a number of reasons why tolling is bad public policy, but that policy gets worse when the tolls are raised without consideration for the users of highways and bridges and the revenue generated is not dedicated for their benefit, but rather stolen for other projects,” Graves says. “It is our hope that when this bill becomes law, the U.S. Department of Transportation will put a stop to increases like the one being pushed through in New York City.”

The Grimm-Lautenberg legislation would let DOT determine if toll increases are “just and reasonable,” a power the agency had until 1987, and allow DOT to override what it deems excessive and unjustified increases.