New Jersey Turnpike Authority approves toll increases, $24B capital plan.

 
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Byline: Daniel J. Munoz

Motorists are slated to see tolls go up on two of the state's largest highways the Garden State Parkway and New Jersey Turnpike with the administration set to decide Wednesday afternoon whether to hike tolls for the Atlantic City Expressway, as well.

The toll increases propose to finance multi-year capital upgrades: $24 billion for the Garden State Parkway and NJ Turnpike, and $500 million for the AC Expressway.

The former two were both approved by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, which manages the highways, in a 7-0 vote during a remotely-held Wednesday meeting.It followed three hours of public comment from many who oppose the increase.

Meanwhile, the South Jersey Transportation Authority is slated to vote at 1:30 p.m. for the AC Expressway toll increases.

Now, it's up to Gov. Phil Murphy to decide whether he'll veto the hikes a power he must exercise within 10 days though he has not vetoed any prior hearings from the two agencies.

The governor is scheduled to appear at 1 p.m. for his daily COVID-19 press briefing in Trenton.

Murphy has been largely silent about the toll increases, arguing initially that he'd want social distancing to be practiced at any hearings, and that the public is given the opportunity to listen in on those meetings.

Under the NJTA's plans, tolls on the NJ Turnpike would go up an average of $1.30. Prices on the Garden State Parkway's main toll plazas, as opposed to those at entrances and exits to the highway, will go up from $1.50 to $1.90.Those extra fees would finance roughly 100 miles of lane widenings and 53 separate projects spanning the next decade, such as a new exit on the turnpike and cashless tolling.

Increases would go into effect on Sept. 13.

The South Jersey Transportation Authority, which oversees the AC Expressway, says its proposal would see tolls at the Egg Harbor plaza advance from $3 to $4.25.That would finance 13 miles of lane-widening, cashless tolling, and a direct connection to the Atlantic City Airport.

Tolls for all three highways would increase up to 3 percent a year starting on Jan. 1, 2022, depending on certain economic indicators at the time.

Their approval comes amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has...

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