Bill Graves, president of the American Trucking Assns. has called on the governors of New York and New Jersey to reconsider and reject a recent move by the Port Authority of both states that will hike tolls on bridges and tunnels between New York City and Jersey by 182%.
In a letter to Govs. Andrew Cuomo of New York and Chris Christie of New Jersey, Graves urged the governors “veto this proposal which will not only devastate the trucking companies that the serve New York City area, but will also increase the cost of doing business in a region already regarded as among the most expensive in the nation.
“Even more distressing,” Graves added, “is that the majority of new revenues will subsidize projects with no benefit to those paying the tolls.”
In his letter, Graves said the proposed tolls will be nearly three times higher than for comparable bridges nationwide. Furthermore, Graves said, the combined effect of toll increases in the region must be considered by policy makers before moving forward.
For example, if these, as well as other proposed increases in the I-95 corridor are implemented, a truck hauling goods from Baltimore to Manhattan will see its toll burden rise from $114.25 today to $209.25 in just three years, Graves pointed out.
The proposal approved last week requires trucks to pay an additional $2 per axle beginning next month and then an additional $2 per axle in December of each year through 2015. Tolls on trucks paying cash will have the same increase but would be subject to an additional $3 per axle cash penalty, what Graves said is “an astounding” 163% increase over current rates.
The ATA executive used examples of tolls on other bridges throughout the country to point out how “disproportionately high” the proposed increase will be. The NY/NJ hikes would increase the toll on a typical 5-axle truck using EZPass off peak usage to $45 and then to $85 in 2015. Peak hour usage jumps to $50 next month increasing to $90 in 2015. The maximum cash rate will be $105 per trip. Graves used the following tolls on other bridges to put the situation into perspective:
San Franciso/Oakland Bay Bridge $18
Golden Gate Bridge $24
Delaware Memorial Bridge $25
Baltimore Harbor Tunnel, Ft. McHenry Tunnel, Francis Scott Key Bridge $12
Boston Tobin Bridge $9
Detroit/Windsor Ambassador Bridge $22.50
Buffalo Peace Bridge $28
Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission Bridges $20
Philadelphia Benjamin Franklin Bridge, Walt Whitman Bridge, Commodore Barry Bridge, Betsy Ross Bridge $37.50
Hampton Roads Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel $35
By 2015 the NY/NJ toll rates will be nearly three times higher than the most expensive bridges in the country, Graves pointed out.
“The New York City area is already the most expensive region for trucks to operate in. On top of the already high tolls that trucks pay, the average 5-axle tractor-semitrailer pays over $9,000 in New York state highway user fees annually, the second highest in the nation,” Graves pointed out.
“Raising the toll rates to the proposed levels will exacerbate an already untenable situation and will very likely have a significant negative impact on companies’ willingness to expand or maintain operations in your states, and to retain jobs in the region,” Graves said.
If the toll proposal goes through, Graves added, ATA “will be compelled to consider legal and legislative options.”