Drivers entering NYC will have to pay higher tolls under new plan

15 11 2007

lincoln-tunnel-toll-booth.jpgThe Port Authority plans to contribute another $1 billion toward the construction of a second commuter rail tunnel to Manhattan, an agency spokesman said Wednesday.

The agency’s Board of Commissioners will unveil the plan during its 2 p.m. meeting Thursday when it is expected to propose raising tolls on Hudson River crossings from $6 to $8 during peak hours.

Motorists would pay $6 during off-peak hours, and PATH riders would pay 50 cents more, or $2, per trip under the agency’s plan. E-ZPass users would lose the $1 discount they get during peak hours, Port Authority officials said.

Peak hours are 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and noon to 8 p.m. on weekends.

The bi-state agency said it needs more money to pay for capital projects and escalating security costs that have tripled since 2000.

But it doesn’t need the extra cash to pay for increasing its contribution toward NJ Transit’s Trans-Hudson Tunnel project from $2 billion to $3 billion, said authority spokesman Marc LaVorgna. The Port Authority wants to demonstrate to the federal government that it is “serious” about building the tunnel, construction for which is expected to begin in 2009 and be completed in 2016, LaVorgna said.

Earlier this year, the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority unanimously approved Governor Corzine’s plan to swap $1 billion in federal funding expected for roads to help build the $7.2 billion project.

New Jersey had already committed $500 million toward the project that NJTransit officials say will relieve traffic congestion on the state’s roads. Federal funding is expected to pay for the rest of the work.

“We’re a full partner in the project and when you demonstrate this level of local commitment [to the federal government], it shows you’re serious about the project,” LaVorgna said. By TOM DAVIS NorthJersey.com

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