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NJ Spotlight: Atlantic City Expressway Is Latest NJ Road Being Eyed for a Toll Hike
by John Reitmeyer
The Atlantic City Expressway is the latest New Jersey toll road for which a plan is in the works to hike tolls in the middle of the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.
Among critics of the move is a Republican state senator, who characterized it as a stealthy attempt to raise the toll “under the cover of a crisis.”
The South Jersey Transportation Authority, the agency that operates the 44-mile expressway, has scheduled three public hearings this week to set the stage for a capital-spending program that would increase tolls by nearly 60 cents for an average trip in the future.
The agency’s proposal would also allow for automatic annual toll hikes beginning in 2022, according to a public notice posted on the SJTA’s website.
The push by the SJTA to enact the toll hikes comes even as New Jersey is grappling with a significant statewide public-health emergency brought on by the spread of COVID-19. So far, 13,386 positive cases have been reported by state health officials, and a total of 161 deaths.
It’s unclear how the SJTA will manage the public hearings — which are required by law — amid the strict social-distancing measures and a state of emergency ordered by Gov. Phil Murphy, who’s repeatedly said the virus has put the state on a “war footing.” In addition to closing all nonessential businesses and schools across the state, Murphy has also banned all public gatherings to prevent further spreading of the disease. He is also urging people to stay home unless trips are absolutely necessary.
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