Toll-hike plan for highway to Shore The A.C. Expressway tolls could rise by 50 percent early next year if the proposal is approved.

Posted: September 06, 2008

Prepare to pay more for that trip to the Shore.

Tolls on the Atlantic City Expressway will increase by 50 percent early next year if the expressway's board approves a proposed hike announced yesterday.

A trip from Philadelphia to Atlantic City would cost $3.75, up from $2.50.

The South Jersey Transportation Authority, which operates the 44-year-old expressway, said additional funds were necessary to widen 23 miles of the road, repair bridges, upgrade toll booths, improve North Shore access into Atlantic City, and improve Atlantic City International Airport, which the authority also operates.

The proposed expressway toll increases are the latest in a series of hikes enacted or proposed for New Jersey roads and bridges.

Delaware River bridge tolls will go up by $1 on Sept. 14. And tolls on the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway would double over the next four years under a plan unveiled Thursday.

The Atlantic City Expressway increases would take effect early next year after three public hearings and approval by the five-member board, chaired by Transportation Commissioner Kris Kolluri.

The first date on which the board could approve the increases would Jan. 27, and the next scheduled session after that would be March 17. Gov. Corzine would have 20 days to veto the increases, but that's unlikely as he has been supporting toll increases to pay for transportation needs.

The proposed toll increases would include a $1 hike at the Egg Harbor toll plaza, a 25-cent hike at the Pleasantville plaza, a 25-cent hike at the existing 50-cent Atlantic City ramps, and a 15-cent hike at the existing 25-cent Atlantic City ramps.

Critics yesterday continued to weigh in against the toll increases proposed Thursday, with Republican lawmakers and a truckers' group chastising the Corzine administration for the proposed increases after the governor failed to win approval this year for a more ambitious toll-increase plan.

"The governor's lack of willingness to veto the DRPA's 66 percent increase to cross the Delaware, coupled with future toll hikes on the turnpike and the parkway, places a disproportionate burden on South Jersey residents," said Assemblywoman Dawn Marie Addiego (R., Burlington). "For the same reason South Jersey drivers should not have to pay for a soccer stadium in Pennsylvania, why should we have to pay for a rail tunnel in Hudson County?"

John Lynch of the American Trucking Associations said a trucker would have to pay about $140 in tolls to travel from Philadelphia to Connecticut by 2012 if the increases are enacted, about twice as much as at the beginning of this year. He said truckers would prefer to see fuel taxes raised to pay for needed road and bridge improvements.

But Lynch praised Corzine for his "insistence on going ahead and trying to deal with transportation infrastructure needs."

Contact staff writer Paul Nussbaum at 215-854-4587 or pnussbaum@phillynews.com.

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