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NJ Lawmaker Calls for Probe of Port Authority Toll Hike

Friday, December 02, 2011 - 05:35 PM

Lincoln Tunnel Helix(New York, NY -- Annmarie Fertoli, WNYC) A New Jersey lawmaker is calling on Governor Chris Christie's office to investigate how the Port Authority handled recent bridge and tunnel tolls and PATH fare hikes.

The agency argued last summer that it needed the money to pay for redevelopment at the World Trade Center site — but state Assemblyman Gary Schaer said legal documents the agency filed last month made no mention of the site.

"That brings us to question what happened between August and now, as well as are commuters going to be asked to pay for the World Trade Center additionally," he said. "So there's tremendous confusion, and confusion is a nice word."

Schaer said he's hoping to hear back from the governor's office next week.

The story was first reported this week by The Star Ledger.

The legal filing came in response to a lawsuit by the AAA motorists group that argues the hikes are not "fair and reasonable," as federal law requires. Both sides are due back in court for that case next week.

In September, cash tolls jumped on the Port Authority's Hudson River crossings, including the George Washington Bridge and the Lincoln and Holland tunnels, jumped from $8 to $12.

The Port Authority released a statement saying:

“In August, the Port Authority informed the Governors of New York and New Jersey that the Port Authority was facing a severe fiscal crisis if it pursued its planned capital plan in the absence of a toll and fare increase. In such event, the Authority would be unable to fund the interstate transportation network projects, much less complete the long lists of other important non-network projects. Ensuring an additional flow of revenue through the toll and fare increase provides for funding of the interstate transportation network projects and makes available other Port Authority resources to complete hundreds of capital projects that are critical to the region's infrastructure needs, and the World Trade Center."

Neither Governor Andrew Cuomo's office nor Governor Chris Christie's office is commenting, referring all questions to the Port Authority. The governors jointly control the bi-state authority.

For a copy of the letter, click here.

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