The New Jersey Turnpike's proposal to raise tolls in 2001 and 2003 drew mixed reviews during public hearings this week.
During a session Tuesday at the turnpike's East Brunswick headquarters, opposition came from the mayor of South Brunswick and residents of other towns who say the toll increase would force more truck traffic onto local streets.
A major part of what the Turnpike Authority plans to do with the money - spend $309 million to build Route 92 from the turnpike to Route 1 in central New Jersey - also was the topic of differing opinions. Several speakers objected to the plan. However, Sam Cunninghame, executive director of the New Jersey Motor Truck Assn., said, "We know next year an 8% increase with E-ZPass is a normal increase, which we can certainly approve of given the capital program, including Route 92," according to the Bergen Record.
Sen. Robert Torricelli, D-NJ, released a letter opposing the increases, saying they would cause a "mass exodus" from the turnpike.
The proposal would raise truck tolls 13% in both 2001 and 2003. Truckers using the E-ZPass automatic toll system would only see their tolls jump 8% each year. Cars paying cash would get a 20% increase in 2001 and another 17% in 2003. E-ZPass users would see an 8% rate hike in 2001 and another 10% in 2003. Motorists with E-ZPass using the turnpike during off-peak hours would get a discount, but there would be no such discount for trucks.
In addition to the four public hearings held this week, the Turnpike Commission has so far received about 500 letters and e-mails on the plan. Turnpike commissioners could vote on the increases as early as January.