Trucking Group Blasts New Jersey’s “Out of Touch” Toll Hikes Amid Pandemic
Trenton, NJ – The Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC) is blasting New Jersey officials after the approval of multiple plans to massively hike tolls in the state.
The controversial plans — which were unanimously approved on Wednesday by New Jersey Turnpike Authority commissioners — raises tolls for all motorists 36% on the turnpike and 27% on the Garden State Parkway.
Specifically for truckers, a trip along the turnpike that now costs $56.85 will soon cost $77.30.
Tolls for truckers on the parkway will increase from $9 to $11.45 at most of the main toll plazas.
At ramp plazas, tolls that now cost truckers $3.25 to $9 will soon cost from $4.15 to $11.45.
Both measures were approved for the purpose of funding a $24 billion plan to improve infrastructure such as widening long stretches of both highways, as well as to implement cashless tolling.
However, that’s not all.
Also this week, the South Jersey Transportation Authority approved a whopping 37% toll increase on the Atlantic City Expressway.
The new tolls are set to take effect on September 13.
Governor Murphy could veto the hikes, but he once again indicated his support for the measures during a press conference on Wednesday.
“We’ve lurched too long,” he said. “I said from the get-go we weren’t going to kick the can down the road anymore on infrastructure.”
In a letter sent to Gov. Murphy on Thursday night, the SBTC called the toll hikes “insensitive” and “out-of-touch.”
“The SBTC is disappointed that the state of New Jersey is moving forward with toll increases during this National Emergency that will adversely affect the wallets of America’ truckers,” James Lamb, SBTC president wrote. “As pointed out by the President numerous times this month, truckers who have worked tirelessly to maintain New Jersey and the rest of America’s supply chain during this pandemic are now struggling with low freight rates due to price-gouging by big freight brokers.”
Lamb pointed out that many small business truckers have since gone out of business and such a toll hike is simply adding “insult to injury” for those that remain.
“New Jersey should therefore not be surprised if independent truckers take it upon themselves to avoid operating in New Jersey moving forward,” Lamb warned.
Though the SBTC was the first trucking group to express its dismay, it certainly will not be the last.
The trucking community largely opposes tolling initiatives arguing they are costly to implement and highly inefficient.
Trucking groups frequently rally in efforts to defeat state tolling initiatives.
When they are unable to do so, legal battles typically ensue.
For instance, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) remains embroiled in a legal fight with the state of Rhode Island over its “unconstitutional” RhodeWorks tolling initiative.
In New Jersey’s case, many local leaders are also outraged these toll hikes were approved in the middle of a national emergency while the state remains under COVID-19 mitigation orders.
“Currently, people are completely occupied worrying about their health, lives, and livelihoods,” Senator Declan O’Scanlon, Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso, and Assemblyman Gerry Scharfenberger, all of Monmouth County, said in a joint statement on Wednesday afternoon. “Over a million residents have applied for unemployment. To move forward with a proposed toll hike is truly unconscionable.”
TransportationNation.com will continue to follow the story.