Cybersecdn– In a move that has stirred both political debate and public concern, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority has approved a 3% increase in tolls on both the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway.
This decision comes after Governor Phil Murphy, initially vetoing a similar proposal last fall citing the need for more detailed justification, approved the $2.6 billion budget that includes these hikes less than three months post-election. The adjustment marks the third toll increase in four years, sparking discussions on its implications for daily commuters and the state’s transportation infrastructure.
According to Tom Feeney, a spokesperson for the N.J. Turnpike Authority, the toll increases are set to take effect on March 1. For the average passenger vehicle, this adjustment translates to an additional 15 cents on turnpike tolls and a 5-cent increase on parkway tolls. Specific routes will see varied increments; for instance, a journey from Camden (Interchange 4) to Trenton (7A) will now cost $2.47, an 8-cent rise.
The hikes come at a politically sensitive time, with Ben Dworkin, director of the Rowan University Institute for Public Policy and Citizenship, noting the typical reluctance of incumbents to approve such increases before elections. Governor Murphy’s approval post-election has led to criticism from various quarters, including Steve Carrellas, the state policy director for the National Motorists Association, who expressed frustration over the lack of transparency regarding the decision-making process behind the toll hikes.
The increases are purportedly aimed at maintaining and improving the state’s highways and mass transit systems, with Bailey Lawrence, a spokesperson for the governor, emphasizing the commitment to the safety and mobility of New Jersey residents and commuters.
However, the decision has not been without its detractors, with Republican state Senate Minority Leader Tony Bucco accusing Governor Murphy and his party of reneging on their promises and burdening New Jerseyans with additional costs amid talks of other tax and fee increases.