Steep Toll, Fare Hike Planned for Tunnels, Bridges, PATH - NBC New York

Steep Toll, Fare Hike Planned for Tunnels, Bridges, PATH



    Port Authority Proposes Big Toll Hike (Published Saturday, Aug. 6, 2011)

    The Port Authority announced a plan Friday to steeply hike bridge tolls and PATH fares because of what is says are alarming budget problems.

    The PATH fare -- proposed to take effect next month -- is set to rise from $1.75 to $2.75, and the 30-day unlimited pass would shoot up from $54 to $89.

    Peak tolls for E-ZPass drivers on Port Authority crossings would increase from $8 to $12 next month, and off-peak would go from $6 to $10. In 2014, both those tolls would increase another $2.

    Drivers who pay cash would see a hike from $8 to $15 this year, and that would also increase by $2 in 2014.

    The toll increases apply to all the Port Authority's bridges and tunnels, including the George Washington Bridge, the Lincoln and Holland tunnels, the Bayonne and Goethals bridges and the Outerbridge Crossing between New Jersey and Staten Island.

    Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie issued a joint statement Friday, saying they had concerns about the proposal.

    "The Port Authority is facing financial issues but so are families in the states of New York and New Jersey, and the answer cannot always be an indiscriminate and exorbitant increase in the cost to the taxpayer, or in this case, toll payer," the governors said.

    The agency blamed its budget woes on various factors, including the costly $11 billion project to rebuild the World Trade Center, and increasing security costs at its facilities since Sept. 11.

    The recession also "sharply decreased revenue below projections," the agency said. Revenue declined $2.6 billion below estimates, and some $5 million in projects have had to be cut, the Port said.

    The Port's board of commissioners will consider the toll and fare plan at a meeting on Aug. 19. Before that, the agency will hold public hearings in New York and New Jersey.

    The agency said a number of projects are contingent on the toll and fare plan, including a $1.5 billion investment to replace the Lincoln Tunnel Helix, which would require major lane closures. The Port also wants to build an $800 million new bus garage at the Port Authority Bus Terminal to relieve traffic in Midtown west, and spend $1 billion to replace all 592 suspender ropes on the George Washington Bridge.

    The agency said it planned to use the PATH revenue for projects that include replacing cars, replacing the signal system, upgrading PATH security and rehabilitating aging stations.