The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has scheduled nine public hearings on August 16 in response to the controversial Hudson River toll/fare hikes it proposed earlier this month. The PA cites several factors for a need to raise revenues, including more than $11 billion in funding necessary to rebuild the World Trade Center and $6 billion in increased security requirement costs since the September 11 attacks.
The hearings will take place in both New York and New Jersey and registration at the agency’s Web site is required. The PA will accept comments online through 6 p.m. August 16. To submit comments or register for the hearings visit http://www.panynj.gov/about/toll-fare-2011.html.
The proposal calls for several hefty peak and off-peak fare increases, surcharges for car and truck drivers using cash at toll crossings, as well as PATH fare hikes. Cash tolls would, for example, rise from $8, to $15 this year and another $2 in 2014, under the plan.
The proposal, announced August 5, has been widely criticized by the public and politicians. N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and N.J. Gov. Chris Christie issued a joint statement acknowledging that the PA faces financial concerns as do residents and commercial users of the crossings.
The PA says projects contingent on the proposed hikes include security investments at regional airports ($360 million); raising the Bayonne Bridge ($1 billion); replacing 592 suspender ropes at the George Washington Bridge ($1 billion); replacing the Lincoln Tunnel helix ($1.5 billion); and a new bus garage connected to the Port Authority Bus Terminal ($800 million).
To bolster its position since making the announcement, the PA has issued a slew of press releases from special-interest parties including several industry groups such as the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. “Without this toll increase, 3,900 jobs will be lost and $483 million in Port Authority capital spending will not happen in 2011 alone,” Gary La Barbera, BCTCNY president says in the group’s statement.