New Jersey Lawmakers Launch Effort to STOP Toll Hikes Amid Growing Outrage
Trenton, NJ — Amid growing outrage, a group of state lawmakers are working to stop toll hikes set to go into effect January 1, 2022, on both the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway.
On Monday, New Jersey State Senators Nia Gill (D) and Jim Holzapfel (R) introduced legislation which would prevent the New Jersey Turnpike Authority (NJTA) from from imposing any toll increases until after December 31, 2024, and prohibit automatic yearly toll increases.
The bill would not only freeze a planned 3% rate increase, but it would also reduce the current NJTA toll rates by 50 cents.
State Assemblymen Greg McGuckin (R) and John Catalano (R) also said Monday that they too will introduce similar legislation on December 20, 2020.
The legislative attempt to hit the brakes on the toll hikes come as anger over the hikes continue to build and inflation is at a nearly 40-year high.
“The toll hike was a sneak attack on New Jersey drivers at a time when the state’s already high cost of living is soaring under near-record inflation levels,” McGuckin said in a statement. “It is an insult to every driver, and an assault on the wallets of working families everywhere, especially those who live in coastal communities who commute to work every day on toll roads.”
Just last year, even amid the pandemic, NJTA commissioners approved a controversial plan to raise tolls for all motorists by 36% on the Turnpike and 27% on the Garden State Parkway.
Those hikes were implemented in September 2020.
However, the plan also changed the way future hikes would be adopted by instituting an indexing process — based on certain economic indicators — allowing annual toll increases of up to 3%.
“It is a disgrace that in a state with some of the highest taxes in the nation, the Turnpike Authority would stoop so low to sneak verbiage in a contract that provides for annual and automatic increases,” Holzapfel said. “There was no discussion about it, no public hearings, no transparency. This is a tax on driving.”
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Time is of the essence as both bills will need to be approved during the current legislative session ending January 10, 2022, if the hikes have any chance of being averted.
Even if the legislation is approved, it is unclear if New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D), who was just re-elected in November, would sign it.
TransportationNation.com will continue to track it closely.