Ocean County, NJ Commissioners the latest to fight against toll hikes on parkway, turnpike, expressway
You'll be hard pressed to find many if any driver in New Jersey in favor of annual toll hikes on the Garden State Parkway, New Jersey Turnpike and AC Expressway, so it's only natural there continues to be rising opposition to this unwanted tax.
It's not a one-sided political issue either, in fact recently Essex and Passaic County State Senator Nia Gill (D) and Ocean County State Senator Jim Holzapfel co-sponsored legislation that would prevent the New Jersey Turnpike Authority from any more increases for a three-year period plus reducing tolls by 50-cents.
Ocean County Commissioners joined in that fight this week by introducing a resolution urging the NJTA, SJTA and Governor Phil Murphy to jointly re-consider the increase in tolls while also asking other elected officials to join in the growing effort against the toll increase.
Prior to that, Ocean County Commissioner Joe Vicari himself sent a letter on behalf of the OC Commissioner Board to NJTA Chairwoman, Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, and that was just the latest letter urging her to reconsider the toll hikes especially since they went up 27-percent in September of 2020 alone.
Anyone driving in Ocean County on a daily basis knows how much traffic is on these roads alone, particularly the GSP, and that's a big reason behind the push from 10th District Legislators and the OC Commissioners.
"What happens in Ocean County every single day (is) 90,000 residents are on the road with their car going to work back and forth to make a living, to put food on their table," Vicari tells Townsquare Media News. "So they see the price of the Garden State Parkway going up, the Turnpike going up, the Atlantic City Expressway going up -- and now on the other hand, they're still paying more for gasoline because our taxes are going up automatically."
Vicari said they are looking for a freeze on any toll hikes the NJTA and SJTA are imposing on drivers across the parkway and turnpike as well as ensuring that Ocean County has a seat at their table.
"We need representation, to represent the people of our great county on the Turnpike Authority and we have none," Vicari said. "Even though we have 40-miles of Parkway, the longest length in the entire state of New Jersey, there is no representation."
This isn't just a plea by the Ocean County Commissioners to prevent toll hikes but a domino effect of consequences that would occur as a result of forcing drivers to pay more money on the parkway, turnpike and expressway.
Vicari also feels that it's just the latest example of the state of New Jersey neglecting Ocean County's concerns.
"We don't have the industry over here, so if you want a good paying job, in most cases, you have to go up to north Jersey and use the parkway and traveling north and that's what's going to really hurt our economy in the future," Vicari said. "Every time we try to work with the state of New Jersey -- at one time we tried to have a rail line extended into Ocean County, it was no -- we tried to have Route 9 expanded, the state of New Jersey said no and they used the money for something else. What's happening is that we are the step-child of the state of New Jersey, the money is going up to north Jersey and not coming down here."