New Jersey toll rates to increase up to nearly 40%

June 2, 2020

Tyson Fisher

|

The New Jersey Turnpike Authority and South Jersey Transportation Authority both approved toll increases that will go into effect in September, despite opposition from several state lawmakers.

On May 27, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority adopted a long-range capital plan that includes increasing toll rates on the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway. Toll rates for the turnpike will increase by 36% beginning Sept. 13. Toll rates on the parkway will go up 27%. Both rates will be indexed beginning 2022, with a 3% increase cap each year.

For Class 5 (five-axle) trucks, this will increase the cost of a trip up to nearly $20. Currently, it costs a Class 5 truck $49.75 using cash to run the turnpike from Exit 1 to Exit 18W. After Sept. 13, that will jump to $67.65. On the parkway, a trip today can cost up to $7.50. Once the toll hike goes into effect, that cost will be as high as $9.55. Those rates can go up by as much as 3% every year beginning 2022.

The toll increase will pay for a $24 billion long-range capital plan.

Approximately $4.6 billion will go toward state-of-good-repair projects on the turnpike and parkway. Such projects include resurfacing, bridge rehabilitation/replacement, draining improvements, median barrier improvements, lighting upgrades to LED fixtures and technology upgrades.

Another $16.7 billion is allocated for “capacity improvements” projects on both roadways. The turnpike authority with explore various options to ease congestion, ensure safety and improve mobility. Sections of the roadways targets for these projects include:

  • Parkway between mile marker 98 to mile marker 163 ($5.4 billion).
  • Parkway mile marker 80-83 ($75 million).
  • Turnpike Interchanges 1-4 ($1.1 billion).
  • Newark Bay – Hudson County extension on turnpike (full length) ($4.3 billion).
  • Turnpike westerly alignment (full length) ($5.1 billion).
  • Turnpike mainline at interchange 13 ($270 million).
  • Delaware River-Turnpike bridge replacement ($500 million).

A parkway flood zone remediation between Bass River and Mullica River/Great Egg Harbor will cost another $1.4 billion. The toll increase will also fund $265 million worth of interchange improvements projects on both roadways at areas of highest need.

In South Jersey, toll rates for five-axle trucks will increase by nearly 40% on the Atlantic City Expressway.

In Egg Harbor and on Route 50, that increase will take the current $11.25 trip to $15.50. A common 75-cent rate across the board on some sections will increase to $1.25.

Extra toll revenue will go toward at least $300 million worth of projects. Those projects include:

  • Mainline resurfacing ($10 million).
  • Lighting improvements ($2 million).
  • Replacement of vehicle maintenance garage ($1.5 million).
  • Resurfacing of Atlantic City Expressway Connector ($7.4 million).
  • LED lighting on AC Expressway Connector and tunnel ($1.3 million).
  • Replacement of fleet equipment including dump trucks, pick-up trucks, work vans and passenger vehicles ($5.2 million).
  • All-electronic tolling ($40 million).
  • Third lane widening from mile marker 31.6 to State Route 42 ($150 million).
  • Realignment of the northbound Garden State Parkway Exit 38B to the Atlantic City Expressway westbound ($20 million).
  • Construction of a new interchange on the Atlantic City Expressway to provide a direct connection to Atlantic City International Airport ($60 million).
  • Glassboro-Camden Light Rail Line (cost TBD).
  • Upgrades to Atlantic City Rail Line (cost TBD).

The decision to move forward with the increase was immediately met with dissent from state lawmakers.

On May 27, Sen. Declan O’Scanlon, Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso and Assemblyman Gerry Scharfenberger – all Republicans in Monmouth – condemned the turnpike authority’s decision.

“It is completely astounding that the turnpike authority believed they should move forward with this toll hike process,” the trio of lawmakers said in a statement. “We are in the midst of a pandemic. Loved ones have been lost. People have been confined to their homes for more than two months. Hundreds of thousands are currently worrying about whether their businesses will be able to reopen in time for their livelihood to be saved.”

The Monmouth lawmakers are also taking issue with the timing of the decision. In their statement, the lawmakers raised concerns of holding a public hearing during a time when residents are living through a pandemic.

“It does not matter whether or not someone believes that a toll increase is necessary because the ultimate issue is that proceeding with a policy that requires public hearings during a pandemic is ridiculous and offensive,” according to a statement from the lawmakers.

Also on May 27, Sen. Christopher Connors, Assemblyman Brian Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne Gove – Republicans representing the ninth district – urged Gov. Phil Murphy to veto the minutes of any meetings held by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority and the South Jersey Transportation Authority which approve toll increases.

Those lawmakers had previously reached out to New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner Dianne Gutierrez-Scaccetti and the executive directors of both toll authorities “to refrain from imposing the toll increases in view of the economic and financial hardships that would ensue for commuters and businesses.”

The ninth district lawmakers also take exception to the timing of the public hearings.

“Equally infuriating has been the timing of the hearings held by the respective authorities,” the lawmakers state in the letter. “Most residents are understandably largely focused on matters related to COVID-19, particularity social restrictions and economic impacts. Holding the hearings was a disservice to the public who, understandably, a large segment of who would not have been aware that the hearings were being held let alone that proposed toll increases were the topic of discussion. State residents have every right to question the state’s decision to hold hearings given the unprecedented circumstances.”

Despite the opposition from lawmakers, Gov. Murphy immediately approved of the toll hike.

Tyson Fisher

Tyson Fisher joined Land Line Magazine in March 2014. An award-winning journalist and tireless researcher, his news reports, features and blogs bring depth to our editorial content, backed with solid detail. Tyson is a lifelong Kansas Citian.