Commuters sound off on toll hikes

| 15 Feb 2012 | 08:51

    JERSEY CITY — Hefty toll-hike proposals for Hudson River crossings would unfairly saddle commuters with post-9/11 security costs and the rebuilding of the World Trade Center, a legislative analyst for AAA testified Tuesday as hearings were held in New York and New Jersey. “Bridge and tunnel users would be paying the lion's share of the largest capital program in the authority's history," Jeffrey Frediani said as dozens of people crowded into a hearing room at the Port Authority bus terminal in midtown Manhattan. “It is neither just nor reasonable to ask drivers to shoulder this burden." The hearings featured testimony from those who have jobs and those who want them. Speaking in Jersey City, one commuter said the increase would be an economic hardship. But laborers said maintenance and improvements projects would translate into jobs. Most seats at the New York hearing were taken by members of a construction union, wearing bright orange shirts. "While no one likes to see tolls and fares increased, these actions are desperately needed to ensure that New York remains the business and economic center of the world," said Chris Columbia, director of the Laborers-Employers Cooperation and Education Trust. Plans call for raising tolls by $4 for E-ZPass customers and $7 for cash-payers as soon as September at the Outerbridge Crossing, Bayonne, Goethals and George Washington bridges and the Holland and Lincoln tunnels. An additional $2 increase could happen in 2014. The plan would also hike fares on PATH trains by $1. A vote on the plan is set for Friday. Either New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie or New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo could veto it within 10 days.