In Brief

Delayed Turnpike, Parkway toll increases set for approval

By: - January 29, 2024 5:30 pm

Three months after Murphy vetoed the Turnpike Authority budget over a 3% toll hike, the agency is set to approve the increases again Tuesday. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

New Jersey Turnpike commissioners are set to vote Tuesday on a 2024 budget that includes a 3% toll hike, less than a week after NJ Transit announced it plans to increase fares up to 15% starting in July.

The planned toll hikes come months after Gov. Phil Murphy halted them amid criticism from Democrats who were running on a platform of affordability ahead of November’s legislative races.

If the Turnpike Authority’s budget is adopted Tuesday, the average New Jersey Turnpike toll would increase by 15 cents to $5.11, and the average Garden State Parkway toll would rise by 5 cents to $1.57, according to Turnpike Authority spokesman Tom Feeney.

When the Turnpike board first adopted its budget in October with the toll hike, Murphy vetoed it, saying he was not satisfied with the justification for toll increases and needed more information on whether they were necessary. Turnpike commissioners in 2020 approved a plan to have automatic toll increases of up to 3% annually.

Murphy’s veto came after Democratic legislative leaders, including Senate President Nick Scutari and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, called on him to keep tolls from rising. Republicans criticized the move, accusing Murphy of trying to win over voters ahead of November’s election, when all 120 seats in the Legislature were on the ballot.

A spokesman for Murphy declined to comment on Tuesday’s Turnpike Authority meeting. Murphy’s chief of staff, Diane Guiterrez-Scaccetti, also serves as state transportation commissioner and previously chaired the Turnpike board.

Cost increases are not relegated to the Turnpike, the Parkway, and NJ Transit. Motorists using Hudson River crossings controlled by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey saw a 63-cent increase toll hike this year. And drivers into New York will also soon be charged a new toll once congestion pricing goes into effect — a $15 fee for drivers entering Manhattan below 60th Street.

It is not clear when the Turnpike and Parkway toll increases would go into effect if approved on Tuesday. Feeney said it will be discussed during the meeting.

 

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Sophie Nieto-Munoz
Sophie Nieto-Munoz

Sophie Nieto-Muñoz, a New Jersey native and former Trenton statehouse reporter for NJ.com, shined a spotlight on the state’s crumbling unemployment system and won several awards for investigative reporting from the New Jersey Press Association. She was a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists for her report on PetSmart's grooming practices, which was also recognized by the New York Press Club. Sophie speaks Spanish and is proud to connect to the Latinx community through her reporting.

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