Cuomo: Hudson toll hike proposal a 'non-starter'

August 9, 2011 7:07:51 PM PDT
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday the proposed steep toll hikes at bridges and tunnels to New Jersey are a "non-starter," but he didn't rule out increases after further review.

"I think the proposal is a non-starter for obvious reasons," Cuomo said Tuesday of the tentative plan, which could be killed by him or by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

He said that now isn't a good time to be raising tolls and that the kneejerk response of putting "our hand in the taxpayer's pocket" when money is needed "doesn't work for me."

The proposal by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates area bridges, tunnels and transit hubs, would as much as double the tolls at the Lincoln and Holland tunnels, at the George Washington Bridge and at three other bridges between New Jersey and Staten Island.

Under the proposal, drivers into New York City from New Jersey at rush hour would pay $12 a day, even if they have E-ZPass electronic payment devices. The off-peak toll would be $10. Without the pass, rush-hour travel will cost $15. All those figures are about double the current tolls. Trucks with E-ZPass would pay $6 more per axle.

Sen. Charles Fuschillo, a Long Island Republican, said the Senate Republican majority is examining the Port Authority's financial position.

"We're not advocating or supporting any toll increases ... with unemployment at an all-time high and the economy in the dumps, this would be another step in the wrong direction for the state," Fuschillo said.

Christie, a Republican, and Cuomo, a Democrat, have already issued a joint statement of "obvious and significant concerns" that could support a veto if the proposal is adopted by the Port Authority's board of commissioners on Aug. 19.

Cuomo said far more research is needed to determine the depth of the financial crisis faced by the Port Authority before tolls to cross the Hudson River are raised.

"There appears to be long-term problems at the authority," Cuomo said. "We will now look at what the need for the revenue is ... before that decision is made, get me all the facts."

There was no immediate comment from the Port Authority.

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