Sacco, Sweeney Bill approved by transportation committee

STATEWIDE – A bill that would roll back Turnpike and Parkway tolls because the money was to be dedicated to the now cancelled Access to the Region’s Core train tunnel was approved by the Senate Transportation Committee last week by a vote of 3-2.
The bill, S-2636, was sponsored by Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Nicholas Sacco (D-Hudson/Bergen) and Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester, Cumberland, and Salem). If approved, it would direct the New Jersey Turnpike Authority to adopt a resolution to scale back toll increases on the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway, which were at first required for the financing and/or payment of construction on the ARC tunnel between New York and New Jersey. In 2008, the Authority approved a two-phase toll increase on the roadways, a portion of which was dedicated to raising $1.25 billion for the state’s contribution to the project.
The phased increases are estimated to have increased the average trip on the Turnpike by 50 cents in 2008, with an additional 90 cent increase to be triggered in 2012.
However, in October Gov. Christopher Christie cancelled the tunnel, but recently announced his intentions to direct the revenue toward infrastructure projects and the state’s Transportation Trust Fund.
“By shifting funds that were dedicated for the ARC tunnel to other programs, we’re opening up any future funding solutions to speculation about whether or not the money will go where it is intended,” said Sacco.
The bill is being looked at by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee before going to the full Senate for consideration. – Tricia Tirella

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