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Christie Weighs Toll And Fare Hikes, Says Alternative in Works

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

WNYC

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie told reporters Thursday that he and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo were working on a coordinated alternative to the Port Authority's proposed toll and fare hike, but did not know if their alternative would be announced in time for the Port Authority board meeting on Friday.

Christie said they had to find a balance. While they were concerned about the mismanagement at the Port Authority, he noted that people wanted projects finished.

"People want us to be able to complete the World Trade Center, " he said. "People want us to be able to fix the George Washington Bridge. New Jersey folks really want the Bayonne Bridge raised so Ports Elizabeth and Bayonne remain one of the top port destinations in America."

On Wednesday Christie told reporters that deciding whether to go along with the Port Authority's proposed toll and fare hikes was "not an easy call." But he stressed that he and Governor Cuomo were "the guys in charge" on the issue, and that they'd been talking about it every other day for the past two weeks.

So how are they leaning? Cuomo is on vacation. But Christie made a point of telling reporters more people spoke in favor of the hikes than against them at public hearings on Tuesday. He also said most of the Port Authority's building projects were needed. He then went on to criticize the $11 billion price tag on the authority's rebuilding of the World Trade Center.

The Port Authority's board of commissioners vote on the hikes Friday. None of them attended Tuesday's hearings. Instead stenographers recorded the more than 200 public comments, which were then collected and sent to the commissioners, who are appointed by the New York and New Jersey governors.

The hikes could raise a peak hour toll as high as $15 per round trip and add a dollar to fares for the PATH train. The Port Authority estimated the toll hike would raise $720 million a year and an additional $290 million a year after 2014, when tolls would rise again.

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