TRENTON, N.J. – While New Jersey residents deal with the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic, plans to raise the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway tolls move ahead.
“While hundreds of thousands of residents are out of jobs, this is not the time to add another financial stressor that the people of New Jersey just do not need,” said Dancer (R-Ocean). “I have called on the governor to halt the toll hikes during this state of emergency. The focus needs to be on helping people affected by the coronavirus pandemic, not raising tolls when everyone is preoccupied with the virus.”
Dancer’s resolution (AR152) urges the governor to reject toll increases proposed by New Jersey Turnpike Authority, which operates both the turnpike and the parkway. The agency decided to hold public meetings on the hikes despite the cancellation of other events, the coronavirus outbreak and stay-at-home orders that prevented anyone from attending.
“Not only is increasing tolls at this time inappropriate, so is the lack of transparency and disregard for the public’s input,” said Dancer.
The details of the increase show some big bites to drivers’ wallets. Drivers using the New Jersey Turnpike face the biggest increase, 36 percent, while parkway drivers would see a 27 percent hike. A one-way parkway trip from Bergen County to Cape May would increase from $8.25 to $9.45. An end to end drive on the turnpike would cost $18.85 (currently $13.85) for cash or E-ZPass and $14.15 (currently $10.40) for off-peak E-ZPass.
“Whether it’s $1.30 or five cents, raising the tolls during a state of emergency is wrong and is something that the decision makers need to reconsider,” concluded Dancer. The Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders also passed a resolution on March 4 urging the governor and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority to reconsider their plan.