Bridge and tunnel tolls could go up (again) for NJ commuters
❌ Rep Josh Gottheimer says NYC's congestion pricing could raise bridge and tunnel tolls
❌ NJ and NY have been warring over new tolls to enter Manhattan
❌ Lost revenue could jeopardize critical airport, tunnel, and PATH train projects, Gottheimer says
The toll to cross the George Washington Bridge and to go through the Holland and Lincoln tunnels is now $17. It could go up as much as $2 per trip if New York City proceeds with its congestion pricing plan.
That was the warning from U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J. 5th District, on Thursday as he continues to battle the controversial new toll plan that would have commuters paying $23 to enter the busiest parts of Manhattan during rush hours.
New York's MTA, by their own admission, has forecast a 19.5% reduction in traffic from New Jersey.
If that happens, Gottheimer says, it would mean a drop in revenue for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey of $125 million per year. In order to make up that revenue, he says, toll hikes would be likely.
He claims that a drop in revenue could put critical projects in jeopardy, including the renovations to the Port Authority Bus Terminal, repairs to the GWB, airport improvements and upgrades to PATH trains.
Gottheimer held a news conference in Fort Lee on Thursday, where he warned, "$1.25 billion in lost toll revenue over the next decade could mean a $2 toll increase to go over the GWB or through the Holland or Lincoln tunnels.
If you added that $2 toll to your daily tally and added the $23 dollar congestion toll, it would mean an extra $5,500 per year in commuter costs. That does not include any tolls you pay to the New Jersey Turnpike or Garden State Parkway.
The battle over the congestion pricing plan has been raging for months. Gottheimer and Gov. Phil Murphy have tried various ways to delay the imposition, including asking federal officials to require a full environmental impact study. That could delay implementation until at least 2024.
Murphy has said he actually agrees with the principles of congestion pricing, including a reduction in vehicle traffic, but says now is not the time.
Gottheimer has been intensifying his efforts on a federal level, and says he will propose a bill to grant New Jersey commuters tax credits to offset the toll hikes if nothing else works.
He made a direct appeal to New York officials on Thursday. "Find another solution that does not squeeze more blood out of the Jersey stone," Gottheimer said.
While some of the dire predictions made by the congressman and others opposed to congestion pricing has come with a fair share of political rhetoric, the potential impact is real.
The Port Authority did not entirely agree with Gottheimer's dire predictions, but a spokeswoman did tell NJ.com they are "currently engaged in a thorough analysis on congestion pricing and its potential impact to the agency."
Eric Scott is the senior political director and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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