Turnpike, Parkway tolls begin automatic increases in September
Tolls on the New Jersey Turnpike, the Garden State Parkway and the Atlantic City Expressway will go up this fall with yearly increases indexed to inflation.
The increase will take effect on Sunday, Sept. 13 with yearly automatic of no more than 3%.
The Turnpike Authority plan adds a toll at Turnpike Exit 19W on the western spur in the Meadowlands, which currently is only available for major events at MetLife Stadium and to the American Dream entertainment and shopping complex.
The vote was taken during a meeting held via conference call on Wednesday.
A toll increase for the Atlantic City Expressway is also scheduled to be voted on by the South Jersey Transportation Authority on Wednesday afternoon.
The Turnpike Authority says the average Turnpike toll would increase from $3.50 to $4.80. The average toll on the Garden State Parkway would go from $1.11 to $1.41.
The biggest part of the plan are projects increasing the capacity of the toll roads including widening the turnpike between exits 1 and 4, widening the Newark Bay extension between exits 14 and 14C and widening the Parkway between exits 80 and 83, 98 and 125, and 129 and 153. More than 40 projects are listed in all, 11 of them systemwide.
The South Jersey Transportation Commissioners approved a 40% toll increase for the Atlantic City Expressway. Like the hike approved for the Turnpike and Parkway it includes an annual increase indexed to the rate of inflation no more than 3%.
The $3 toll plaza at Route 50 will jump to $4.25.
The toll revenue will be used for capital projects, including roadway resurfacing and lighting. It would also fund the proposed Glassboro-Camden light rail and improvements to NJ Transit's Atlantic City rail line.
One opponent of the Atlantic City Expressway toll increase was the first commissioner of the South Jersey Transportation Authority, Jake Blassy, who said while he supports the proposed projects he does not believe the time is right.
Blassy said that the board should vote no because the public did not have a full voice in the process because of the pandemic. He also said that a toll increase is not the way to bring people back to Atlantic City.
The Garden State Initiative president Regina Egea said both hinder the state’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and called for Gov. Phil Murphy to veto both increases.
The process to propose the increases was criticized because it happened during COVID-19 pandemic, which forced public hearings to be conducted online because of restrictions on the number of people permitted to gather in a room. Opponents argued that the public's attention was focused on other matters.
Proponents of the Turnpike and Parkway increases say the plan will act as a catalyst to jump-start the state economy with construction work.
State Sen. Loretta Weinberg. D-Bergen, a supporter of the increase, urged the board on Wednesday to pause the widening project in order to get a better idea of how travel patterns will be affected.
Previous reporting by Michael Symons was used in this report
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