Our friend Tom Hester, Jr. shared the good news for those of us in Central Jersey in today’s Home News Tribune with this headline that ran immediately over his name:
“New Jersey weighs toll hikes to earn $15B for debt”
Just when you thought you were safe from the skyrocketing gas prices that have plagued the rest of the country [companion article in the same Home News Tribune says how NJ has the lowest gas prices in the nation], here comes another great way to take money out of your pocket: Increase the tolls.
Now, I know that NJ is a ‘corridor state’, one that has hundreds of trucks passing through every nano-second on our roads, and those trucks pay lots in tolls to us. And since I live in Central Jersey and go mostly east and west instead of north and south, I really don’t pay that much in tolls. Really. I don’t even have EZ Pass. Quite frankly, I never thought it was that EZ. And I like saying ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’ to the human toll takers. Makes the ride more pleasurable. However, perhaps a fair compromise would be to charge out of state folks more money, and give NJ residents a better price break on EZ pass ---- if such policy can pass constitutional muster.
Still, when I do travel on the GSP or the NJ Turnpike or through the Lincoln or Holland Tunnel, I hate the idea of paying for a road or bridge or tunnel that was all paid up years and years ago. Although, I do like going over the Outerbridge Crossing --- the name is just so silly. I found out years ago that the bridge was named after Eugenius Outerbridge, the first chairman of the Port Authority and a Staten Island resident. Is that an incredible coincidence or not? I am sure the NJ/NY Port Authority laughed like hell when someone said “Let’s name it the ‘Outerbridge Bridge’”.
Connecticut---another corridor state---got rid of their tolls years and years ago. Seems like they are doing just fine without them. Their roads are no worse for the wear without tolls, and they are just about finished with their section of I-95, too.
So, bottom-line --- Governor Corzine wishes to “monitize” the roads. And I guess other states have had some success with that approach by selling off the asset that is the road to some private company, and grant that company the right to collect the tolls. And, yes, “montize” is just a fancy spin on the word “privatize”. Perhaps the real reason Trenton needs to raise the tolls is to create more of a money producer for which ever company buys the NJTpike or the GSP.